The Death of Metro
Who will fill Metro’s void? We will!
By now you news junkies out there have heard that Metro, the free daily paper in the green boxes, has ceased production in Regina and Saskatoon. Metro newspapers hit Regina like a bomb. There were people handing them out on the streets downtown, and a box on every corner. There is even a box in the middle of a residential street in my neighborhood, which is super weird. Their business model, which had been working all over Canada and Europe for quite a long time was simple: local cover stories, followed by nationally edited and uniform content with tons of advertising space. Don’t get it twisted; daily newspapers are built ads first, and content fills in the blanks. But for all the national advertising that comes with being part of a chain, there has to be local ads to supplement that. There are advertising niches to fill in Saskatchewan if you want to survive. The Leader-Post does it the old way: Cars, retail and real estate targeting seniors. The Prairie Dog has been the go-to arts and culture paper since 1993. Here at the Carillon, we’re a guaranteed 18-24 demographic of university students. We’re as narrow as it gets. Metro’s target audience on the other hand was people that ride the bus and pedestrians. Advertisers would probably be better off spending that money on renting a helicopter and throwing flyers out of it.
Metro isn’t totally finished here. They’re keeping on a ‘Bureau Chief’ to pump out Saskatchewan content for the web. But that’s really what it’s all about here: content. Metro operated on the presumption that it’s a newspaper, not a shiny full colour flyer. The only difference between the flyer pack that gets stuffed in your mailbox and Metro is that one of them has ‘content.’ With the recent uproar at the Globe & Mail over management encouraging their writers to do advertorial content, we move closer and closer to the actual death of daily print media. Content is finally and truly becoming the wrapper for the advertising meal. The Regina Leader-Post hires journalism interns to write the fluff pieces to fill the spaces between ads. They fool these bright young people, many of which are Carillon alumni, into thinking they’re journalists and not just ‘content creators.’ We all say “good for them, writing in a newspaper,” but we know what they’ve become and how it will end. Their internship will be over and they’ll be right back at school, with another faceless young intern stepping into their shoes.
This is where alternative media and student journalism will save the day. Here at the Carillon we’re supported by you, the student, as well as our advertisers. I’d be lying if I said that we or any other student paper were self-sustaining solely on ad revenue, but that’s what keeps us honest. We have an obligation to our membership, the student body, to deliver news and opinion that matters to them, rather than to our advertisers. Love us or hate us, we’re the future of real journalism in Canada. There will always be room in the media landscape for independent voices. The more homogenized and stale the old media gets, the stronger and more relevant we become.