samedi 10 octobre 2009

The Gazette

In 1776 Benjamin Franklin and an army of the not yet USA invaded Canada and occupied, however briefly, Montreal.  Franklin hoped to get French-Candians' support by giving them a french newspaper.  He brought in Fleury Mesplet, a young French exiled printer.  By the time young Mesplet was ready to publish, the occupier had gone home not being able to garner the support he had hoped for.
Nonetheless in 1778 La Gazette Politique et Littéraire de Montréal began publishing.  After a few years it became bilingual French/English and not long after unilingual English.  For the last 231 years it has been a Montreal institution.  Some years ago it was taken over by Canwest publishing, a Winnipeg based holding.  The Asper family managed to drive their newspapers to the brink of bankruptcy by borrowing heavily to get them...only to see the add revenues plumet and the readership vanish as editorial control was made in Winnipeg.
Now the Montreal Gazette is on the verge of being sold...or worse, closed.
231 years of history would be wiped out by a red bottom line.  This morning, Josh Freed, a regular columnist, comes up with the idea that we could all bunch together and buy the Gazette with the journalists in order to save it.  Could be a great idea.  Of course I could be a bit sentimental, my uncle Henri worked 52 years at the Gazette Printing Company, entering at 18 as an apprentice binder and retitring at 70 when the binding department was shut down.