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The death of The Monitor - print edition

The Monitor Newspaper produced its last print edition on February 5. For most of the paper's 83 years, it had circulated in Côte Saint-Luc, along with N.D.G., Snowdon, Montreal West and Hampstead. In recent years the paper, owned by Transcontinental, was publishing very thin editions. So it was not surprising that Transcontinental decided to stop the bleeding. Instead of completely folding the paper, though, they indicated that The Monitor will live on via an internet edition at www.themonitor.ca.

While I admire the efforts to keep a West End instution going, I do not believe we have reached the stage whereby readers will log on to a community weekly in the numbers the paper had in the past. However, if they can manage to do some kind of marketing plan they might attract a new readership. After all, The Monitor can now publish seven days a week and produce breaking news.

I owe my career in communications to The Monitor. When I was 16 years old I crushed  two vertebrae on my spine in a hockey game. I was in Grade 10 at Wagar High School, looking forward to a job as a counsellor at a summer camp. Well, the injury took some time to heal. I had to forego the camp job. My main summer activity ended up being the continuation of something I had begun a few years earlier: statistician for the Côte Saint-Luc Slo Pitch Association.  One of the things I did regularly was type up the weekly standings and batting leaders and bring them in to the sports editor. His name was Anthony Wilson Smith. Well, I approached Anthony and asked him whether I could submit a weekly story for the paper about the league. He agreed and my days as a journalist had begun. In the fall, Anthony gave me my own column - complete with my photo - to cover the local hockey leagues. I remained with The Monitor for several years. Anthony would go on to write for The Gazette and then Macleans Magazine. Today he is a senior executive at Canada Post. We will do keep in touch.

I left The Monitor to write for The Suburban (www.thesuburban.com)  and remained there for some time. But in 1989 I was lured over to a brand new paper called The Weekly Herald. It could not compete with The Suburban and by this time The Monitor had stopped circulating in Hampstead and Côte Saint-Luc. When The Herald folded I got a call from Don Sancton. At the time he was the editor of The Monitor. Louise Wolman, an ad rep, had recommended he contact me. I was offered a chance to be their new city columnist.  I jumped at the opportunity and happily returned to my roots. Sancton soon left to join the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and a series of editors succeeded him, including the likes of Julien Feldman and Leonard J Gervais. Distribution returned to Côte Saint-Luc and in addition to my column I began covering City Hall. It was at this time that I first thought about one day running for council.

Near the end of my second stint with The Monitor I brought in a couple of sales reps who never worked for newspapers before. They were a husband and wife team. The husband had sold cleaning products, but had fallen upon hard times. He took to this business famously and virtually single handedly turned the paper around. The Monitor was publishing 52 page editions and swimming in large profits. Not surprisingly The Suburban plucked the two of them away. In 1996 they did the same with me. I got an offer I could not refuse and returned to The Suburban, where I still happily write today. Nonetheless, I maintained a good relationship with The Monitor and its subsequent editors. They changed the paper's name to the West End Chronicle and for a time the ad rate seemed to improve. The Monitor moniker came back only recently, perhaps abit too  late to try and revive what was once a legendary journal.

I will miss having the paper delivered to my door. Ditto for its coverage of City Hall. Yes, I know they will have an internet edition. But for people living in the constituency I represent,  many are not yet online. That will change. I hope TheMonitor.ca is still around when it does.


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