A great day. And a little

A great day that will mark the history of the city of Quebec and change its dynamics and face for decades to come, have welcomed elected officials from all political levels.
“We are entering modern times,” added Mayor Régis Labeaume.

Big day indeed for the project of tramway and structuring transport of the capital, which the governments undertake to finance up to 3 billion $.

This desire was known since the spring, but Monday’s “announcement” gives it a more solemn character. It will now become difficult for a future government that wants it, to back down.

There are still many unanswered questions about the modalities and implications of this project. Even on the utility of a tramway, will continue to argue those who oppose it.

Many of these responses are expected to come in the fall, in line with the analyzes and impact studies required by the Ministry of the Environment.

Other issues will emerge along the way, until the start of operation of the tramway scheduled for 2026.

If Le Soleil is still there, we will echo it and contribute to the public debate, as journalists have done for more than a hundred years that this newspaper exists (1896).

In the early years with the ardor (and excesses) of the committed political opinion of its liberal owners.

Then later, with intellectual independence and the approach of professional journalists. The presence of significant players in the life of Quebec City at Monday’s press conference (Laval University, Capital Commission, business and community circles, etc.) attests to a broad institutional consensus around the structuring transportation project .

However, we feel that enthusiasm is not shared by all citizens. The work of pedagogy and persuasion will have to continue, if we hope to achieve a broad social acceptability.

***

The news fell somewhere between Justin Trudeau and François Bonnardel.

Or maybe it was a little later, between the ministers Duclos and Champagne or Mayor Labeaume. You will allow me to have been a little distracted and to have lost the thread.

The Capitales Médias Group (owner of the Sun and five other dailies) was about to declare bankruptcy, said the title that spread like wildfire on the cell phones of journalists and guests.

Technically, this is not a bankruptcy, but a restructuring that will involve discussions with the (numerous) creditors of the group. We are a little in semantics, but the nuance is important.

When I returned to the newsroom, I was able to gauge the anxiety of colleagues and their resignation in the face of fatality. What we had seen coming over the years was coming.

What was a great day for the structuring transport was a tiny one for the information of the Capitales Médias network, which now has nothing structuring and may be dismembered.

Colleagues received the shock. I did not feel resignation or abandonment, but what I would describe as a lucid resilience pending further.

***

The $ 5 million one-time assistance announced at the end of the day by the Legault government will allow the Capitales Médias newspapers to hold a few more months.

The time to look for a “buyer” or “buyers”, to use the words of the Minister of Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon.

This or these potential “buyers”, however, will face the same problem as newspaper owners everywhere in the West: the erosion of revenues, the failure of traditional business models and the mixed (and insufficient) results of new models. digital.

This is where “modernity” has led us. In the decline of revenues and by ripple effect, that of newsrooms such as ours, forced to reduce its workforce to limit deficits.

Whenever this happens, it is a bit of the ability to cover the news and to challenge the choices of public administrations that is eroding. The ability to delve, to put things in perspective, to explain, to expose other points of view and arguments, etc.

It is possible to do well, even with small teams, but we will necessarily do less, which affects the role of the media in democracy.

In a context where newspapers like mine and others are reduced to relying on public support to survive, we must ensure that we can play this critical role.

Not only to be a nice reflection of our communities that may appeal to local elected officials, but to remain (or become) attentive watch dogs.

This must be part of future thinking. If not, how could we justify aid programs financed with public money?

***

I do not know more than others how to build a business model that can work.

What we do know, however, is that readers are always there. More numerous than ever, with the proliferation of electronic broadcasting platforms.

It would seem to me that I manage to mobilize these readers. Better explain that there is a cost in producing reliable and relevant information for public debate.

Convince those who value this information that they can contribute to its survival by subscribing, by giving to a possible foundation or by agreeing to pay for access if they are asked one day, etc.

In short, do the opposite of what newspapers have encouraged them to do in recent decades by giving their content rather than selling it.

This is a big challenge. Both for newspapers and for democracy.

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