After 133 years, La Presse publishes final print edition
Montreal's La Presse has published its final print edition after more than 133 years.
The French-language newspaper will continue to publish content on its digital platforms.
"It's the end of an era, it's a milestone in our history," said deputy publisher Eric Trottier. "La Presse has always been the heart of French readers in Montreal but it's not bad news, because we've had that much success on the tablet edition. We have more readers than ever before in our history."
La Presse had already ceased publishing a daily print product on Jan. 1, 2016, and announced in June that the Dec. 30 Saturday paper would be its last.
Trottier estimated that 265,000 people have downloaded and use the newspaper's tablet app, La Presse+.
"It's something incredible in the media news industry," he said. "It's a very big success. For revenues, La Presse+'s business model is based on advertising revenues and we've transferred about 90 per cent of our revenues to digital editions of La Presse."
The company said at the time that the move to a fully digital platform meant that 49 full- and part-time jobs would be eliminated.
La Presse's president writes in the final edition that the decision was inevitable given the public's adoption of new forms of communication and the shift of advertising dollars to digital platforms.
Pierre-Elliott Levasseur says the end of the print era is part of a gradual shift to digital that began several years ago.
Concordia University journalism professor Brian Gabrial noted that La Presse is in a unique position to try new things.
"For Francophones, this is an isolated market, whereas I think in more competitive areas like Toronto, the Globe and Mail's experiment didn't work when they have other major competitors," he said. "I think in terms of the future of news, this is the way to go. I think it's silly to cut down trees to produce a newspaper every day... Technology is technology and it's not going to go backwards."
Trottier noted the company was among the first newspaper's to transition to digital-only but said he believes others will soon follow.
"The paper industry is costing too much in terms of the paper and the distribution," he said. "The costs are so high that no newspaper can continue to live with those costs... Our industry is challenged in advertising revenues because we have new competitors like Facebook or Google that are giants and they're taking lots of the revenues in the advertising world."
Gabrial said he believes the elimination of daily print newspapers is "inevitable," an evolution that's bittersweet.
"For a person of my generation, it's a sad day because we're conditioned to have a daily print edition coming every day," he said.
- With files from The Canadian Press