It was a sad but inevitable situation this past Saturday when I got an e-mail from Ron Kilpatrick, editor-in-chief of Echo Weekly, telling me and other contributors thatpublication had stopped on the vaunted Tri-City alternative. There will be no more Echo from this moment on, and that is sad. At least for me.
Echo was one of those things that immediately caught my attention when I first came to Guelph in 1998 for university. It wasn't the type of newspaper I was used to (it had swearing in it!), and I ended up enjoying this weekly dose of left-leaning politics, the politically astute comic strip Weltschmerz, and Josey Vogles' classic sex column, My Messy Bedroom. (Mind you this was before the internet revolution took hold.) I very much looked forward to Thursdays, but that was then... Dan Savage replaced Josey years ago, and Weltschmerz took its bow a few summers ago.
But as numerous people have noticed - and related to me - there's been a definite decline in, I wouldn't say quality, but engagement. There hasn't been a proper cover story in the last year, the paper has been thinner and thinner, and it seems that no one's really been invested in making the once great alternative pop again. And the bitter truth is, there really hasn't. It's been a chicken and the egg type thing: The more the paper lost money, the more it pulled back and did less, which meant fewer people were willing to invest in Echo, and that started the cycle all over again.
Adding insult to injury is the appearance that the people in charge in Echo maybe just didn't care anymore. It moved headquarters from Old Quebec Street to the Trafalgar Building, and then all operations were moved to the View's offices in Hamilton. In other words, there's been no Echo operations in the Tri-Cities, which is weird because it covers the Tri-Cities. It's seemed that the people in charge of operating Echo have been less focused on covering the scene in Guelph, K-W, Cambridge, as much they've been focused on just making sure that there's a magazine to cover it.
Of course, the harsh reality is that all the things that Echo did are now being done by a dozen some-odd websites and blogs out there, and these are the times. What perplexes me is that you drive to Toronto, and on any given day, there are about half-a-dozen alternatives that you can pick up off the newsstand, and people do pick them up. I wonder where the disconnect with the people of Guelph and area now is that we can't even pick up a single alternative to the point that it's viable?
So that's the end of Echo, and I really am sorry to see it go. I love newsprint, but in the meantime Guelph Politico will stay in business, and I guess that's the point.