Thursday, 16 December 2010

A London view

Butch (The Beast) McLarty, a London blogger, shares his opinion of  Eric Margolis, the London Free Press and Quebecor: 

I always enjoyed reading Eric Margolis - I now read me him online at his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter - because:

1. He is a well-informed and to-the-point veteran of international affairs. He doesn't mince words.

2. He doesn't toe any particular party line. Agree or disagree - and I usually agree with him -  you know you're dealing with an honest point of view based on years of field experience.

As a resident of London, Ontario, I can attest to the deterioration of the London Free Press during Quebecor's ownership.

For several generations, the London Free Press was a strong and proud voice for Southwestern Ontario under the Blackburns.

When Sun Media bought the Free Press in 1997, it appeared this fine tradition would continue when London-born Big John Paton was publisher.

But the bottom dropped out when Quebecor bought Sun Media shortly thereafter. It was a lousy turn of fate.

And it's not that the remaining staff at the Free Press are incompetent or lazy. There's simply been far too many cutbacks in staff for them to provide proper coverage while they receive their marching orders from out-of-town bean counters.

As a result, circulation continues to plummet and staff morale is at an all-time low.

Further, there's far less diversity in opinion columns with fewer local, regional, national and international voices.

Even the quality of editorial cartoons is in the toilet.

At one time, the Free Press provided editorial opportunities for talented, up-and-coming local writers to get published in a daily newspaper.

Not anymore as Peladeau's Quebecor throws nickels around like manhole covers, notwithstanding the fact that advertising revenue at the Freeps remains high.

It's a significant loss to readers, aspiring journalists and the country itself.

This sad situation is mitigated somewhat by online opportunities, but there is no substitute for a vibrant print edition of a local newspaper.

Currently, I can read the print edition of the London Free Press in a few minutes, including the once comprehensive Saturday edition.

It's little wonder that former LFP editor-in-chief Paul Berton made the jump to the Hamilton Spectator several months ago.


  1. This sums things up at many corporately-owned newspapers. And philosophies won't change as long as ad revenue continues to pour in.

    The newspaper conglomerates monopolize many markets. With no competition, they are free to slash expenditures and stick it to the advertiser. This situation has bred complacency in management. Managers actually believe they are doing great because the profit margins are high. All that matters is the bottom line, not the quality of the product being produced.

    Unfortunately, it is difficult for a standard-conscious independent to compete against a corporately-owned newspaper. The corporately-owned newspaper gets the national ads (which are sold at reduced rates to the corporate group), it slashes prices on local advertising rates to undercut the competition, and the advertiser is happy to pays less.

    Ultimately, it is up to advertisers to change corporate philosophy. They can do so by taking their business elsewhere.

  2. Nice summation. Pretty well says it all.

  3. Forget about the words, the ink 'n paper the freeps has been printed on, since Quebecor took over is toxic pulp recycled from nafta's softwood lumber agreements.
    Spread about four layers on the boulevard, cover with a few inches of mulched yard debris and it'll kill noxious weeds.