Twenty-two years after its introduction, the last copy of the Sunday Gazette hit Montreal’s dépanneurs and doorsteps on August 1, cutting the Gazette’s printed editions down to six days per week.
The venerable newspaper-Montreal’s sole English-language daily-made the announcement in mid-July, citing the small amount of advertising dollars brought in by the Sunday edition.
“The Sunday edition has always been a challenge to break even on,” said Bernard Asselin, the newspaper’s vice-president of advertising and sales, in a recent interview. “The ratio of advertising, the revenues from circulation and so on were always challenging.”
Most of the Sunday Gazette’s popular content has been moved to the expanded Weekend Gazette, which publishes on Saturdays. Susan Schwartz’s science-focused column, the newspaper’s Social Notes feature, and The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle have all made the shift.
Some readers were disappointed at the Sunday edition cancelation, Asselin said, but others were happy to make the adjustment as long as The Times puzzle remained in the paper. “I don’t think we’ve lost a lot,” he said.
The Gazette cut no jobs when it made the change, and the newspaper said that it will devote the resources freed up by the Sunday edition’s cancelation towards increasing its online coverage.
The Sunday Gazette’s cancelation came just a year after La Presse, one of Montreal’s three French-language daily newspapers, cut its Sunday edition as well.
“It’s part of a very broad trend of cutting and trimming,” said Marc Raboy, the Beaverbrook Chair in Ethics, Media and Communications at McGill. “We’ve seen newspapers like the Gazette shutting down entirely in the past year or two, especially in the United States. I think we have to be prepared for that possibility in Canada as well.”
Other newspapers have tried to boost their weekend circulation numbers by offering special promotions. The New York Times, for example, advertises special subscription rates for its Friday, Saturday, and Sunday editions under the moniker “The Weekender.”
As big metropolitan dailies attempt to adjust their business models to an increasingly Web-oriented world, other newspapers may consider moves similar to the Gazette’s.
“I think, on the whole, we’re going to see conventional newspapers trying to reduce costs without drastically reducing their services,” Raboy said. “The Sunday edition is an obvious place to do that.”