Other memories from the Montreal Star?

February 10, 2009

Interesting reaction from Stu Lowndes here to something I wrote back in September. Any other former hacks from the Montreal Star want to chip in? To facilitate conversation (if any…), Lowndes’ comment reproduced here:

The Montreal Star folded partly because editorial management decided to hire a few hacks from the tabloid press, in particular, the Globe/Midnight operation, then based in Montreal.

The Star was the better paper of only two in the city. The Montreal Gazette wasn’t really a newspaper, it was a scum sheet of St.James’s Street financiers and those PR flacks at the local watering hole, the Montreal Press Club.

Okay, I’m a little harsh on the rag. I used to work for The Star and my moments and memories go back to the early 1960s – and when Peter Desbarats, then feature writer, was dean of journalism of University of Western Ontario, now retired, and others: Walter O’Hearn, Paul (Dodo) McKenna Davis (night editor), Dick Havilland (city editor), and so on …

As for Dennis Trudeau, I met the chap during a stint at the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph. Couldn’t figure him out then, can’t figure him out now.

Trudeau, however, knows how to play the game.

Unfortunately, the QCT online, doesn’t. The oldest paper in Canada still doesn’t get it. Such big ideas for such a small rag with less than 2,000 print eyeballs. But, who knows …

I wonder how The Star would have appeared or have changed in this so-called Google Generation.

I have changed; I haven’t read a rag in years, including The Montreal Gazette. But I was born on a paper, and my heart and sentiments are still with most of them, with only a few exceptions.

R.I.P.

Stu Lowndes


Winnipeg Free Press on strike

October 28, 2008

I took me two weeks to realize the Winnipeg Free Press is on strike. Blame it on the Ottawa Bubble, Post-election Stress Disorder and old age. The Free Press keeps putting stories on its Web site. The strikers are publishing their own online newspaper, as is now the tradition with members of the Canadian Media Guild. Smart flacks will add the new media outlet to their distribution lists.

Best of luck to both strikers and management. I wouldn’t want the Free Press to be killed by a strike, like the Montreal Star was. The Star’s management was rabidly anti-union, which doesn’t seem to be the case in Winnipeg.

The Free Press was established in 1872. With the Winnipeg Tribune closing in 1980, the only other daily in that market is the Winnipeg Sun.

OOPS UPDATE: Contrary to what I wrote in a previous version of this post, the Free Press hasn’t been absorbed by Canwest. I have no excuse to offer aside from temporary insanity. My thanks to John White who spotted the obvious mistake.


Montreal Star closes

September 25, 2008

On this day in 1979, the Montreal Star ceases publication after 110 years in print. Closing the successful newspaper was part of a deal between the Southam and Thompson chains to stop competing against each other in four major markets in Canada. That kind of gerrymandering prompted the establishment of the Kent Commission on newspaper ownership and subsequent government interest in newspaper ownership transaction.

Interesting to see how the Montreal Star’s best staff fared after the closure. Dennis Trudeau went straight to a successful career in broadcasting (still ongoing). Sports reporter Red Fisher and literary editor Doris Giller were welcomed by the Montreal Gazette. Cartoonist extraordinaire Terry Mosher (Aislin) had already crossed over to competitor Montreal Gazette in 1972. None left Montreal.