The Weekly Herald Covers:

THE GAZETTE, November 21, 1991

Sign of the times

Plans for westend weekly die from lack of support

Make it the windmill I, Don Quixote 0.

Warren Perley, the energetic iconoclast who wanted to establish a new English-language newspaper in the west end against all the political and economic trends, has thrown in the towel.

Perley has announced that he's given up his effort to establish a new west-end weekly, which was to be called the Weekly Herald.

In a letter to supporters and potential subscribers, Perley explains that he had set a goal of 2,000 paid subscriptions at a cost of $23.11 each as "the jumping-off point for the venture."

A four-month effort brought in only 350 subscriptions, so Perley decided to put away his lance and give up on the windmill.

He's now in the process of getting subscription refunds back to the people who supported his effort. Apparently many of the cheques have already been received by would-be subscribers.

Perley cited the recession as the primary reason his project failed, but he also mentioned The Gazette's new West End edition as a contributing factor.

"The direct entry of a major national chain into the small but lucrative west-end market scared off investors who felt there were too many fishing lines being cast into a small pond," Perley says in his letter.

One of my more acerbic colleagues added: "Score another one for the big corporation against the little guy."

Chances were always slim

Katherine Wilton, now a Gazette reporter who had been among the volunteers trying to breathe life into Perley's dream, says it was sad for her and other young journalists working with Perley to see the Herald fail but she doubts the Herald could have made it in the current economic climate even without direct competition from The Gazette.

"It's sad because it was always Warren's dream to have his own newspaper," Wilton said. "It's sad because he had it and then the carpet was yanked out from under him."

Perley and some of his former staffers have decided to remain in Quebec and have already started a new business called Ponctuation Grafix. which he describes as a design/graphics/typesetting/editing firm.

Personally, I feel sorry that Perley's efforts weren't successful. Perley is an iconoclast, and there are never enough of those to go around. And as Wilton pointed out, his paper was an excellent training ground for young journalists who are finding it harder and harder to break into the business.

It's probably another sign of the times, but the first column I did on Perley's effort drew as much response as any column I've ever done.

Unfortunately for Perley, most of those who wrote or called weren't looking to subscribe.

They were looking for a job.