I Hate Mondays

I also dislike the National Post but this latest cut is bad news

Editorial | by Stephen Whitworth

Lots going on lately: from terrorist attacks and tower fires in London to presidential investigations and hate crimes in America to terrifying, plane-grounding heat waves in Arizona, the daily papers are full of news.

Not so much on Mondays, maybe.

On June 19, news broke that the money-losing National Post, flagship of the money-losing Postmedia news chain, will stop publishing Mondays starting in July.

The move is both shocking and completely unsurprising.

It’s shocking because Mondays have been on the Canadian newspaper schedule for over than a century and it’s hard to imagine anything different. But it’s also completely predictable given media concentration — which for decades has sacrificed staff, and therefore quality, for profits — and also given the rise of the Internet (which destroys advertising and subscription revenues).

This news might inspire conflicted feelings. On the one hand, like a lot of Planet S readers I’ve railed against Postmedia’s appalling conservative bias. A newspaper that consistently endorses politicians who muzzle scientists, fight transparency in government, cut spending on needed programs and pander to racists and religious extremists is, in its very timbers, not on the side of civilization.

That said, like all Postmedia papers the National Post has good, hard-working reporters covering important news well. Losing a day of their print coverage is not good for the country.

So what now? Well, first off, it’s safe to bet money on local papers like StarPhoenix cutting their publication days soon — I guess this year, but no later than 2018 I’m sure.

The bigger problem is the media chain’s inevitable bankruptcy, which has staggeringly bad implications for local politics coverage.

Since media concentration got rolling 25 or so years ago, Canada’s daily newspapers have slashed hundreds if not thousands of jobs from newsrooms. Those cuts meant fewer local stories being covered; you can bet they also acted as a warning to talented people considering careers in journalism. There’s no doubt that a lot of good would-be reporters dropped their media dreams for safer careers in public relations.

None of this is good for democracy, which needs an informed public — and it’s hard to have an informed public when there’s no print media digging up information.

(Side note: it can’t, and shouldn’t, do everything, but thank goodness for the publicly funded CBC. Without it we’d all be screwed. Well, maybe not Andrew Scheer.)

The National Post’s  cut is the just the latest depressing development in Canada’s slow, sad march away from a healthy media — an institution that, as others have said, is as essential to democracy as oxygen is to a person.

There’s a lot to be done to turn this around. A time is coming when the ordinary citizens and civil society organizations that rely on the reporting of media outlets will probably have to pick up some of the financial slack. Alternately, we can steel ourselves to a post-fact, post-accountability era.

I think we’ve got an idea how well that would work. ❧


Planet S encourages readers to support quality reporting, from The New York Times to The Guardian to, well, hey, how about us? To find out more about how you can support alternative media in Saskatoon, visit www.planetsmagt.com.