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Final days for CANOE?

Quebecor looks to be abandoning online journalism

Five days after writing this CANOE.ca cut 31 jobs, the majority of which were editorial positions. Yahoo Canada also cut jobs that day, allegedly 30 of its 36 positions.

The rumours have been swirling for a few weeks now, the speculation a lot longer, but today’s Globe story seems to confirm it all: Pierre Karl Péladeau’s convergence dream has become a bizarre nightmare.

Péladeau is about to radically “restructure” his Quebecor Media unit, which includes CANOE. According to the Globe story, half of the jobs at Quebecor’s Internet unit would be eliminated.

That means up to 60 people, many of which are my friends.

Some of those jobs will come from my direct alumnus, Webfin/CANOE Money, which is almost assuredly gone. The irony is, two months ago Quebecor was looking for someone to head-up the editorial-side of Webfin.

Quebecor’s plans are a horrible misstep for online journalism, as Webfin will reportedly be “replaced with a new Web site that...no longer require[s] original copy from reporters and instead take[s] content from other Quebecor Media sources.”

This sounds eerily similar to what Quebecor did with CANOE’s Lifewise—once a solid lifestyle section with original content, now a sex-centric section filled with badly-translated content from Quebecor’s magazines.

But this kind of pseudo-journalism is not new to Quebecor. In the past, the French precursor to Webfin often ran advertorials about local businesses.

Now CANOE has an entire advertorial section devoted to cosmetic surgery—the most recent story implies Gwyneth Paltrow’s “small bust” could benefit from a “Breast Enhancement and Shaping System.” Stories within this section, according to a footer found on the bottom of the pages, may contain links that “have been sponsored by a third-party for commercial purposes.”

Despite all the brash commercialism, and watering down of editorial content on one of Canada’s most visited news sites, music lovers can rejoice. Quebecor plans on launching CANOE Digital, a virtual radio station which allows people to buy the music they hear at Quebecor’s chain of music stores.

Will Péladeau ever wake-up?