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ISOJ 2014

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  1. 1. ‘A Huge Culture Change’ Newsrooms at La Presse and The Montreal Gazette Reflect on the Shift to Digital-First Lisa Lynch Concordia University
  2. 2. Initial Observations (2009) • In Montreal, Francophone journalists were more often publicly critical of online news • Some Franco Montreal papers – like Le Devoir – had no interest in moving online at all; bare- bones site, no archiving, etc. • Was this a case of ‘digital divide?’
  3. 3. Context • Anglo and Franco papers both have long histories in the city • Anglo and Franco workers represented by different communications unions; Francophone unions traditionally stronger • Anglo papers compete with US papers and ‘national’ Canadian papers
  4. 4. Questions • Do online staff at The Gazette and La Presse differ in how they describe the benefits and disadvantages of online news? • Will these differences change over time as both outlets refine their approach to online news?
  5. 5. La Presse • Founded in 1884; now the flagship paper of the Gesca Group • Closure crisis in 2009; shift to Ipad-first in 2013 • La Presse+ is a gamble to ensure the paper’s survival, relying on a market that is not mature
  6. 6. “We arrived in a paper world where people really didn't know what the web was….” But a successful integration within months, due to efforts of editors and careful logistical planning. Interviews in 2010
  7. 7. Re-envisioning La Presse as a tablet-first product…
  8. 8. “There's a new generation in advertising agencies [deciding] where they put their ads, and it's definitely not in the print version. That's exactly why we moved to the tablet.” Interviews in 2013
  9. 9. “In 2010, I worked for the dailies. If there was a fire, or anything, I made an article for the website, and I'd have to make an article for the next day's paper… Now, I have a lot of time, I drink coffee and brainstorm.” Interviews in 2013
  10. 10. “They are all young, hipsters. People who do 5 a 7 (cocktail hours). The new geek IPad, technology generation ... (who) think they're cooler than everyone else.” Interviews in 2013
  11. 11. The Montreal Gazette • Founded in 1778 • Heyday in 1960s; still claims profitability but connected to financially strapped chain • Since the 1960s has shifted from Southam to FP to Hollinger to Canwest to Postmedia
  12. 12. “We rush to get things up quickly and then there are mistakes and inaccuracies. I do find that the standards slip.” A focus on the problems rather than successes Interviews in 2010
  13. 13. “I don't feel it's clear where things are right now or where they're going; it still feels like we're in an in-between stage. It's (also) not clear exactly what this revolution is supposed to be about…seems to me more or less similar to before.” Interviews in 2010
  14. 14. A centralized system for creating a chain-wide look….
  15. 15. “I feel like if we had a better system, that could actually free us up to do more…if only the architecture were not so clunky.” Interviews in 2013
  16. 16. “We’re still mostly a print paper. We are doing more things online but the most dramatic things that have happened here has been the reduction in staff across the board” Interviews in 2013
  17. 17. Results • At La Presse, transition didn’t create an unsustainable workload • Staff believed management had made an investment in the future of La Presse as an institution. • At The Gazette, push towards online resulted in overwork. • Digital decisions reflected the priorities of the chain and not The Gazette.
  18. 18. Limitations • La Presse going through unique period of transition • Other Francophone papers (Quebecor vs Le Devoir) not studied • Ipad team not interviewed
  19. 19. Conclusion Rather than confirming initial ideas of a “digital divide,” interviews demonstrated the complex interplay between workplace conditions and attitudes towards online work.
  20. 20. Longer version: