Montreal has contributed to the creation of several media tycoons.
Among them, everyone knows Pierre Péladeau, the founder of the Journal de Montreal and the Quebecor empire. There is also Conrad Black who grew up in the city and launched his empire from the small weekly The Sherbrooke Record.
I was lucky to know these two magnates.
My relationship with Conrad Black was that of an admirer and when I met him (three or four times) it was as a guest at his book launch. In the case of Pierre Péladeau, I have known him intimately since I was his personal assistant from 1991 until his death in December 1997. (See biography on page LeStudio1.com)
If there is a common point that emerges in the behavior of these two individuals (Black and Péladeau) is their deep passion for paper journals. Conrad Black is in fact a journalist at heart and he had built his newspaper empire largely to be able to publish his opinions across the world. He likes to share ideas …
Pierre Péladeau was less international but he had a very keen sense of the news. He saw it, however, always at the local level while Black is international. Their empire was also the image of their founder. When Pierre Péladeau was at the helm of Quebecor, he ensured that the Journal de Montreal was primarily bringing local news to Montrealers and he has always kept out from major international debates.
Peladeau , who died in 1997, loved newspapers and he leafed them continuously. One of his hobbies was to count the ads in a newspaper and compare to another and check if advertisers buy ads in his own newspapers. He had also made check each day by the editor of the Journal de Montreal, death notices in the newspaper La Presse. If a death was not in his journal, he wanted to know why …
To the opposite, Conrad Black is very much a wordly person and one of his greatest achievement in life was his membershi at the House of Lords in London …
I am very sad today to see that the media of these two major builders are in turmoil.
The National Post, the creation of Conrad Black, is under the protection of the law of bankruptcy because of Canwest and Le Journal de Montreal, the creation of Pierre Péladeau, is experiencing a labor lockout.
What is the future?
I do not think we will never know a comeback of these newspapers, as they existed during the 1990s. The times changed and people up too. We must accept this situation.
Pierre Péladeau died and his empire Quebecor went from paper to Internet. Le Journal de Montreal is not the newspaper of the future! For his part, Conrad Black has been sent to prison and when it will come back, it will be to write his memoirs and other books on history. He will never create a major newspaper like The National Post.
But as Pierre Péladeau repeated: “You lose a deal, you get a deal! “Some media will disappear but others will replace them. It has always been the case in the past and it will be the same in the future. Nobody and nothing is ever irreplaceable!
Picture 1: Pierre Péladeau and Conrad Black
Picture 2: Conrad Black in Chicago
Picture 3: Pierre Péladeau in front of his pool in Ste-Adèle (Québec)