About a week ago, a reader asked me to comment on the quality of Acadienouvelle. So, on a Sunday morning, here's a general impression.
The standard of journalism is clearly higher than that of The Moncton Times and Transcript. There is no obvious bias in the reporting or commentary. Opinions are, as always, open to disagreement - but they are intelligent opinions, and there is no rant.
Only one column caused me unease. It was presented as a news column, written by Martin Roy. But it was very much an opinion column. The column was good one. But it should have been clearly labelled.
I was surprised to see two news items that did NOT appear in the TandT. One was that the NFB was making a film about Ron Turcotte, the New Brunswicker who enjoyed a brilliant career in horse racing. Even today, his may be the New Brunswick name most widely recognized across North America. So why on earth was this story not picked up by the Times and Transcript - and as a general news story rather than just a sports one?
The other item was a major one about unilingual anglophones running for francophone health boards. It's not illegal. But it's hard to see how they could be of any possible use on boards that, reasonably enough, work in French.
I did not notice either of these stories in the TandT. And that may say something about the failure of the Times and Transcript to bring both communities together.
Chantal Hébert contributes an insightful column on the Quebec student strike. I could wish it went just a little deeper; his opinions seem intelligent, well-expressed, and without bias.
I was suprised to see an editorial review of the municipal election which did not include Moncton. The divide in this province must be very sharp and deep, indeed.
And the paper does have problems.
1. It has to serve a widely spread readership in a great many communities. That costs money. And a glance at the advertising suggests Acadienouvelle doesn't have a whole lot of money. This seems to be a paper that has good journalists - but doesn't have enough of them.
2. Perhaps related to 1, if the TandT shows too little interest in francophone New Brunswick, Acadienouvelle shows too little in anglophone New Brunswick. Both papers seem to operate as if the other group does not exist - except when some dispute arises. That can only deepen the divide.
3. International news is so brief and scattered as to be useless. There is no point in carrying it. Readers can get that sort of news far more quickly and fully from television or from CBC radio. (No. Not from private radio.)
A columnist on international affairs, someone to give them meaning, might be nice - but perhaps too expensive.
4. I was struck by how inward-looking Acadienouvelle is, how absorbed in narrowly 'cultural' matters without much attention to issues like environment, shale gas drilling, social questons.......
In general, it seems a paper with a quite respectable level of honesty and journalistic professionalism. It may need to refine its mission and, to some greater degree, help Acadians to see their lives in the context of their broader setting.
It also, I suspect, needs money.