This post was written by MJ on 19th Mar, 2003
That sound you hear…
… is the other shoe dropping at The Gazoodle.
The Star’s Antonia Zerbisias — who is not often wrong, despite a sweet tooth for a certain conspiracy theory — is reporting that CanWest Global plans to consolidate music, movie and television criticism at its local dailies, like the Gaz.
“This week, the current holders of these positions will be invited to apply for a single job in each beat, to cover the movie, broadcast and music scenes for the entire chain. The unsuccessful applicants will likely land other jobs in their newsrooms, sources say. That means that local rock concerts, TV shows and movie openings will likely no longer be reviewed by specialists, although insiders assume that general reporters might be assigned to the coverage.”
This isn’t a big surprise given the Asper’s history of newsroom penny-pinching and the financial exigencies of the CanWest Global chain.
Locally, though, the (potential) loss of some of the Gaz’s best, most vibrant writers will be a disaster. Bashem Boshra has been doing a great job as the television critic, approaching the western world’s dominant cultural medium with, for me, the right mix of distaste, ridicule and affection. Mark Lepage is the best, most insightful, intelligent and unpredictable writer the Gaz has, period. And T’cha Dunleavy’s put in solid work bringing some of pop’s more eclectic sounds to the suburbs. And John Griffin is the dean of the city’s movie critics.
Soon all that will be gone. Expect canned pap on the latest Hollywood offering or this quarter’s teen-pop model.
To be brutal, that might fly in Moose Jaw, Vancouver or Toronto, but it is simply unacceptable for Montreal. We have Canada’s most vibrant artistic community with the country’s most sophisticated arts consumers. The Aspers might be able to get away with dumping print versions of last night’s Entertainment Tonight into their other markets but they will not here. Even from a practical standpoint these changes make little sense here — arts festivals and the attendant tourism is one of this city’s now dominant industries; how can the Gazoo braintrust hope to cover the Jazz Fest, FrancoFolies, Juste pour rire and Montreal International Film festival without full-time locals on those beats? (And, dear God, please spare us more banality from Juan Rodriguez. The man’s a moron.)
These changes expose publisher Larry Smith’s plans to reach out to francophones and racial minorities as hollow. Thanks to CanWest cost-cutting, the paper’s only vizmin columnists — Mr Boshra and Ashok Chandwani — are now either gone or, in Mr Boshra’s case, seemingly on the way out. And just how much coverage of the next Quebecois film or vedette can we expect coming from Winterpeg?
Fearless prediction: The Gaz will soon integrate Global’s arts bimbos and bimbettes into its pages. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…