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RIP Montreal Mirror: The sad demise of Montreal’s last English free alt-weekly

Shock, anger and sadness are the prevalent responses to last week’s surprise announcement that the Montreal Mirror would be abruptly discontinued, with Thursday’s June 21st issue to be its last.

The free alternative weekly was invaluable to the Montreal arts scene. During the Mirror’s 27-year publishing run, countless musicians, filmmakers, comedians, dancers, visual artists, and dramatists relied on its coverage to draw crowds to their performances and exhibitions, while scores of local journalists got their start at the paper. The annual Best of Montreal guide was an incredibly informative, hilarious and useful round up of the best this city had to offer, compiling not only the tastiest restaurants, best dive bars and dance clubs, and coolest shops in town, but also the most memorable French pick-up lines (“Je passerais la nuit avec toi… même s’il y a une game d’hockey”) and the sexiest, tackiest, weirdest Montrealers (Mitsou, Celine and Hollywood/Banana Man, perennial favourites in their respective categories). And long before Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” or “Rants and Raves”, the Mirror’s Rant Line kept us abreast of whatever was turning on or pissing off our fellow Montrealers.

The message posted on the former Mirror website identifies the economic challenges from the “growing popularity of digital media” as the reason behind the closure. Admittedly blogs like She Does the City contribute to the changing media landscape, which hinders the viability of print journalism. Yet other reports suggest that corporate giant Quebecor, which bought the paper in 1997, wasn’t interested in maintaining a left-leaning paper. For more coverage of the reasons behind the paper’s closure, excellent Montreal blog Fagstein features comments from Mirror staffers and freelancers, and offers a collection of related links, including a Facebook group to save the paper.

Whatever the cause for its demise, the Montreal Mirror will be missed. Though such an important and long-standing cultural institution can never be replaced, we at She Does the City are committed to keeping you in the know about the goings-on around town. And, in the face of this loss, we must ALL ramp up our support of the local arts scene, so that our vibrant, artistic, beautiful city stays that way.

~ Heidi Craig

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