“The voice of Vancouver is getting louder,” proclaimed the front-page story of the Vancouver edition of last Tuesday’s Metro.
“The voice of Edmonton is getting louder,” pronounced that of its Edmonton counterpart.
But when Torstar relaunches the papers tomorrow under the new StarMetro banner — shedding their distinctive green globes for Toronto Star blue — two cities’ voices may actually get quieter.
Blue-ribbon panel: pic.twitter.com/yDyBHmiH4U
— CANADALAND (@CANADALAND) April 3, 2018
Metro Winnipeg and Metro Ottawa both shut down on November 27, when Torstar traded the pair to Postmedia as part of the publication swap now being probed by the Competition Bureau. But while the two papers immediately ceased publication and the sites’ landing pages redirected to Postmedia dailies in their respective cities, their articles have stayed online at the same urls as before. That’s could change as early as tomorrow, however, as Torstar abandons the metronews.ca domain, in favour of region-specific versions of thestar.com.
Existing stories from the Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Halifax Metros will be saved and gradually migrated over the course of the year, according to Torstar spokesperson Bob Hepburn. But the papers that closed? “The Metro Winnipeg and Metro Ottawa content is now owned by Postmedia,” he says in an email. “You should contact them for that question.”
Postmedia, for its part, says it has no specific plans to maintain the online content from the two papers on publicly accessible sites.
“With respect to ‘web archives,’ newspaper websites were never intended to be, nor have they been represented as, a public archive,” Phyllise Gelfand, Postmedia’s vice president of communications, says in an email to CANADALAND. “In fact, existing newspaper websites don’t keep all articles online indefinitely.”
“Companies like Infomart, Meltwater, Newspapers.com, and others provide access to articles for purchase,” she advises. “Libraries are also a resource.”
(She adds that, “With respect to the physical archives we acquired in the transaction, we are open to hearing from interested organizations such as libraries, universities, museums.”)
Former Metro Ottawa reporter Kieran Delamont — who moved to the city to take the job last July — says neither Postmedia nor Torstar have reached out to notify him of the potential removal of the 135 stories he wrote there.
“I’d like to see the archives kept up purely out of public interest, to be honest,” he says in a message. “There were more than a few exclusive stories from those papers — Ottawa had one of the first stories that broke the use of ‘unfounded’ as a police designation case in sexual assault investigations, for instance, as well as stories that prompted actions from the city government. But if it’s decided to take them offline, I just hope that whichever company makes that call will reach out to us to make sure we have what we need.”
That said, because of the convoluted custody of the Metro brand around the world — the global entity could be said to be based in Sweden, Luxembourg, the UK, and/or Uruguay, depending how you look at it — there is another lifeline.
Operated by Metro International, the Read Metro website maintains full-page, non-searchable PDF archives of every Canadian Metro paper from 2011 through last June (or, in the case of the Transcontinental-owned Métro Montréal, through today’s date).
Asked in an email if the archives of the Winnipeg and Ottawa editions would remain accessible on that site for the foreseeable future, Metro’s Montevideo-based CEO responds within minutes and without ambiguity.
“Yes,” Juan Manuel Romero says, “they will.”
Top image from the front page of the March 28, 2016, edition of Metro Ottawa, reporting on “unfounded” sexual assaults.