In what surely is a peak time for Montreal culture, with festivals and marches everywhere, the city as a whole and the English-speaking progressive and artistic communities in particular suffered a major loss yesterday. After 27 years, the Montreal Mirror abruptly stopped publication.
News came first from a press release by Sun Media, a division of the Mirror’s parent company Quebecor. Then the alt weekly’s site redirected to a message from the editors thanking readers and contributors and stating that:
“The growing popularity of digital media and communications has irremediably changed the context in which free cultural weeklies operate, bringing about economic challenges which have unfortunately compromised The Mirror’s viability.”
(Note that editor-in-chief Alastair Sutherland confirms that this statement was not written by anyone on the Mirror’s actual editorial board.)
Some will blame the Web. For those who do, I’d suggest looking beyond cultural publications like this one, to sites like Craigslist that take away classified dollars.
Others have already begun suggesting on Facebook and in editorials that Quebecor/Sun just wasn’t willing to invest in trying to properly adapt the Mirror to the new digital marketplace when they easily could have.
Some have hinted at and in some cases stated that given the right wing bent of Quebecor’s other properties like the Journal de Montreal and Sun News, doing something, anything, to keep a centre-left Anglo publication that didn’t fit their mould alive just wasn’t in the cards.
Others see this as part of the general problem of media consolidation, responsible for a corporation like Quebecor having the power to axe the Mirror in the first place.
No matter where you lay the blame (I personally take the right-leaning media conglomerate having no interest in keeping its one lefty paper angle), what’s happened is in the past. Sadly, so now is the Mirror.
No more Rant Line, no more Best of Montreal, no more… the list goes on. Also, no more job for seven hardworking people and countless freelancers. I had the pleasure of writing for them once, covering the anti-Republican protests in NYC in 2004 and have been interviewed a number of times over the years on different subjects, even making it to the cover in 2001. We all have our own memories of this paper. I also remember back in my late teens and early twenties rushing out to pick up a copy of the paper to see if that show my friends were in got some coverage. We saw ourselves in this paper. It spoke to my community and if you’re reading this, it probably spoke to yours, too.
This was a publication that started in a very rock ‘n roll fashion as so many projects I’ve been involved with have. It never lost that vibe in its content. (Maybe it’s somewhat fitting that the Mirror is now gone at age 27, the age of the dead rock star) There’s a Facebook group up to save the Mirror, not sure what affect it will have. At the very least, though, Quebecor should allow them to do one final farewell issue and reopen the online archives (one of the best archive setups out there) making them permanent. The only thing we have now are memories.
Farewell Mirror, you will be missed.
Thanks to all the staff of the Mirror for all their years of great service, especially Patrick Lejtenyi, Alastair Sutherland, Matt Hays, Sacha Jackson, Lorraine Carpenter, Jonathan Cummins, Chris Barry and Rick Trembles, among many, others.