An English-language newspaper covering the Outaouais is ending free distribution and slashing its freelance budget to cope with declining advertising revenue.
Since 1983, the West Quebec Post has been delivering daily newspapers to subscribers in anglophone communities in areas including Gatineau, Quyon, Buckingham and Chichester in Quebec.
About one-fifth of its readers pay $33 annually for a subscription that ensures home delivery by Canada Post.
For the rest, the West Quebec Post paid a fee to place its newspapers in an ad bag distributed to communities. That service is now ending, meaning anyone who wants to continue to get the newspaper must now pay the $33 annual subscription fee, which includes home delivery.
“We operate on the philosophy that everyone deserves news, and in minority language situations, like the ones where we exist in Quebec, news is even more important,” said Lily Ryan, the publisher, co-owner and editor of the West Quebec Post.
“We just can’t afford to be doing the home delivery [anymore].”
Declining ad revenue
The changes come as media outlets across the country struggle with a decline in ad revenue.
Ryan said the West Quebec Post suffered a sharp decline in ad revenue when the former federal government began migrating its ads to the digital realm.
The newspaper, Ryan said, currently has no provincial or federal advertisers.
“It decreased under the Harper government federally, and then it dropped down to nothing with the Trudeau government,” she said.
Managers to pick up slack
In order to cope with cuts to the freelance budget, the newspaper will rely on its managerial staff to write, edit and translate stories.
“We’ve just asked everyone to hold back and file one story per freelancer … [previously] they were filing four, five, six articles a week, depending on which ones and where and what was happening,” Ryan said.
English-language newspapers in Quebec remain important to the communities they serve, she said.
Although many anglophones read French, they sometimes find it difficult to grasp all the complexities of certain stories, she said.