The West Island Chronicle lost its last remaining full-time reporter Friday, the latest in a slew of cutbacks to local publishing by Transcontinental Inc.

Layoff notices were issued to several Montreal community weeklies, including the Chronicle, on December 18.

"It was six days before Christmas Eve - I don't think they wanted to do it that way, but I guess they had no choice - I got a layoff notice from my employer," said former Chronicle journalist Raffy Boudjikanian.

An institution on the West Island since 1925, the community paper has changed its format as its staff shrank in the past several years.

Long-time editor Albert Kramberger's position has been eliminated. While he was offered a position as the sole reporter, Kramberger said in an e-mail he doesn't intend to accept the demotion.

The decision means the Dollard-des-Ormeaux-based paper could rely on freelancers, said Boudjikanian.

"I don't think a community newspaper can really function with just freelancers, I think you need at least one reporter there to do a good job," he said.

Memories of the way it was

Gazette sports columnist Dave Stubbs, who began his journalism career at the Chronicle in the mid-70s, said it's a shame to see the cutbacks.

Stubbs has fond memories of his days as a cub reporter, and even saved his first published feature article.

"This would be February 1976, so I would have been with the paper for less than a month, and this was the first feature story I would have written," he said, pointing to a yellowed newspaper clipping.

Impact on the community

D.D.O. Mayor Ed Janiszewski said he feels the changes at the Chronicle will impact the West Island community at large, because the paper has long provided a forum for connecting with citizens.

"It certainly does a great service to the municipalities to have the weekly newspapers reporting what's happening. We have our own publications that we send out four times a year, (and) that doesn't fill the void in between, and the local newspapers have done a great job on that," said Janiszewski.

Several Anglophone community weeklies were hit by cutbacks in 2009, including the West-End newspaper The Monitor, which now publishes exclusively online.

In August, five bilingual community weeklies - Le Messager in Verdun, Le Messager in Lachine-Dorval, Le Messager in LaSalle, Le Magazine in Nuns' Island and Le Magazine Sud-ouest - all became French-only.