Potter of the Petfinder: Notes from beneath the editor’s desk

So farewell, then, Andrew Potter, who this month winds up his conspicuously undistinguished term as chief resident of the Ottawa Petfinder spay-neuter clinic for a soft landing at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC).

Potter, a graduate of the William Watson Academy of Knobs and Eggheads, first landed at the dismal daily in 2008 as national editor. Then-Petfinder uberdwarf Scott Anderson, after all, knew a kindred dead white male when he saw one.

He bailed in 2010 for a short stint as Canadian Business readers eye glazers editor, then returned to the Petfinder as ME in 2011.

By the time Potter was tipped as editrix in late 2013, the moribund daily, shorn of its Sunday edition, not only ever-thinner but printed on smaller paper and kludged together by a shrinking and traumatized contingent of surviving sluggos, could hardly sink any lower. Er, could it?

December 6, 2013: Welcome to Pottersville
The new boss immediately offers props to his predecessor-dismantlers:

“The Citizen is the newspaper I grew up reading, and over that time it has been led by a succession of outstanding editors. The opportunity to follow in the footsteps of men like Neil Reynolds, Scott Anderson and Gerry Nott is an enormous privilege,” he burbles. “I will do my best to make sure the Citizen continues to serve the interests of this city and our readers, while remaining true to our motto, ‘Fair Play and Daylight.'”

Shurely Nott returns the logroll: “Andrew is the right guy at the right time for the Citizen, its journalism and place on the media landscape in Canada. His intuition for the great political story is unmatched, his touch of irreverence is most welcome and his outstanding leadership will take the Citizen to the place it needs to go in the years ahead,”

And so it comes to pass…

February 4, 2014: Bring out your dead, part xxvii
Postmedia axes its parliamentary bureau, tossing five hacks overboard and installing the remaining five at the Petfinder, where a simultaneous round of voluntary buyouts further thins the herd. The rout, Potter sagely tells the Hill Times, makes “strategic sense.”

May 20, 2014: Get ready, get set for Reimagination Day
Andy welcomes readers to the future: reheated Postmedia drivel on four platforms, no more City section, wire copy now conveniently bundled into something called “Context” and Arts and Life mashed into an wafer-thin package entitled, in a deft avoidance of all editorial culpability, “You.”

“Welcome to the new Ottawa Citizen.

“Today we launch a suite of four distinct products – for print, web, tablet and smartphone.

“In the new print edition, all local news is now in the A section, with a focus on Parliament and the public service, City Hall and courts, and all the features and columnists that keep you up to date on what is happening in the city. In our new Context section you will find national and world news along with the best opinion and analysis from across Postmedia, telling you not only what has happened, but also what it means. Finally, the arts and life section has been reimagined as You, with an emphasis on telling the kind of stories that bring Ottawa to life.

“All of this is packaged in a user-friendly and colour-coded section design, with a greater mix of story forms to give readers a faster and more flexible way of accessing the news.

“Our new smartphone app concentrates on storytelling delivered in small bites, for people who are constantly on the move but need to be always up to date. It will be resolutely local in focus, full of personality, and updated all day.

“Finally, our tablet app has been reinvented as an eye-catching local news and current affairs magazine that will be delivered at 6 p.m. every weekday, while our new smartphone app concentrates on storytelling delivered in small bites, for people who are constantly on the move but need to be always up to date…”

“The Citizen is the first of the Postmedia papers to undergo this transformation, with seven more to follow in the months ahead.

“We are very excited about the reimagined Ottawa Citizen, and we hope you are too.

May 27, 2014: “A comics and puzzles update”
“Citizen readers have called and emailed about our new comics and puzzles package.

“Some of the feedback was positive, but you also let us know what you didn’t like.

“And we’re listening. You told us you miss Adrian Powell’s Canadian crossword, and starting today it returns to our daily puzzle pages…

“Thanks for your feedback. And thanks for reading the Citizen.”

Sept 6, 2014: “A note from the editor regarding puzzles”
“When we launched the redesigned Ottawa Citizen back in May, our goal was to bring you a smart, visually stunning and contextual read every day of the week. We also introduced a smaller but – we thought – more attractive package of quality comics and puzzles that was a mix of old favourites and contemporary titles.

“Many Citizen readers called and emailed about our new puzzles package, and in response to much of the constructive commentary, we brought back Adrian Powell’s daily Canadian crossword, as well as the North of 49 crossword puzzle for Saturday papers.

"Well, my work is done here. Toodles!"

“Well, my work is done here. Toodles!”

“And while both changes helped address your concerns about Canadian content, your ongoing feedback has convinced us that we didn’t go far enough. And so starting Monday, we are adding a few more features and tweaking the nature of the current offerings…

“Finally, as so many of you suggested, the solutions to our crossword puzzles will appear in the same issue that the puzzle appears, and not the next day.

“Thanks for your feedback, and thanks for your patience. And most importantly, thanks for reading the Citizen.”

January 8, 2015: “Thanks for your feedback. We’re making changes”
“Eight months ago we launched what we called the Ottawa Citizen Reimagined. We completely changed the way we deliver news, taking advantage of new technologies and storytelling tools to meet evolving reader needs on four distinct platforms…

“All four products have been in constant evolution since our launch last May. We have tweaked the print design, added new features to the website, and modified the mix of stories on our apps in response to reader feedback.

“Today, I am pleased to announce some further changes. First, for a limited time the evening newsmagazine, Ottawa Citizen for iPad, will be available to download for free, thanks to a sponsorship by Urbandale….

“In addition, the readers who valued our previous smartphone and tablet apps will be happy to hear that we have brought them back. If you still have them installed on your device, you should find them up to date with the latest news. If you want to reinstall them, you can now download them from Google Play or iTunes.

Thanks so much for your feedback and for your patience. And most of all, thank you for reading the Citizen.”

October 21, 2015: Tablet tanks
After a year and a half, Postmedia kills its evening tablet editions, including the Petfinder’s, a bold new move decision appropriately announced by, er, Globe and Minion media hack James Bradshaw.

January 20, 2016: There goes the Sun
The Ottawa Petfinder and Sun newsrooms merge, and a dozen Sun hacks go for the high jump. Petfinder sluggos are offered another round of buyouts. From the editor’s desk, an oracular silence.

February 6, 2016: Context is dead
Potter dutifully serves readers another steaming merde sandwich. More exciting news, Ottawa! Now get your national and political news from an insert of the National Post, the neocon pamphlet you didn’t buy when you had any choice in the matter:

“If ‘all politics is local,’ perhaps there’s no place where the famous saying rings more true than in the pages of the Ottawa Citizen. And (‘but,’ shurely?!—ed.) starting Monday with the launch of a new section of the paper – An Edition of NP in the Ottawa Citizen – readers will find political coverage in the Citizen better organized, more thoughtful and more enterprising.

“An Edition of NP (National Post) in the Ottawa Citizen replaces our Context section. It offers six to 10 pages of national, political and international news, plus commentary and analysis from the best journalists in the Postmedia Network. Columnists such as Ottawa political bureau chief John Ivison, Christie Blatchford, Robert Fulford and Michael Den Tandt will be regulars in the section.

For readers who turn to us for news of the public service, military procurement and the massive business of the federal government, those stories will be front and centre in Section A, where local Ottawa news lives. Our editorial and opinion pages will also be found in the front section.

An Edition of NP in the Ottawa Citizen will be a distinctly curated, beautifully designed section that will enhance and expand our national and international coverage.

And its addition will not change our commitment to the strong local journalism you have come to expect from us (that’s enough ewoks!!—ed.)

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5 comments on “Potter of the Petfinder: Notes from beneath the editor’s desk
  1. John MacLachlan Gray says:

    Surely a candidate for the 2016 LOAP (Lipstick On A Pig) Award,
    journalism category.

  2. Papadoc says:

    News flash: the Ottawa Citized died years ago. Only Paul Godfrey didn’t notice,

  3. Steve-O says:

    Have you seen the latest buy-outs at the Citizen? McGregor, Kennedy, Chianello, et al. At this rate, they’ll soon be turning out the lights altogether. If I were someone like Glavin or Adami, I’d be looking nervously over my shoulder and polishing my resumé.

  4. mmedesevigne says:

    I buy the Petfinder online edition only. At my age, I need to see the local obits. In my defence, I used to say that, at least it’s not the Sun. Oh, dear. And now that the NP has been added to the mix, we can get our red-eyed, head-valve popping far right wing Conservatism undiluted. From Toronto.

  5. daveS says:

    Well that didn’t last long.
    Andrew (‘Maudites-Frenchies-are-more-clannish-than-dear-Anglos’) Potter has been forced to resign today for a clumsy “pathologically alienated and low-trust society” column in Maclone’s.

    “I deeply regret many aspects of the column — its sloppy
    use of anecdotes, its tone, and the way it comes across
    as deeply critical of the entire province,” Potter wrote.
    “That wasn’t my intention, it doesn’t reflect my views of Quebec,
    and I am heartbroken that the situation has evolved the way it has.”


    L’Université McGill avait pour sa part réagi en indiquant sur Twitter qu’elle «n’approuve d’aucune façon les propos tenus» par M. Potter.

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