Comunidade newspaper, 1975-1979. Part 1: Records and commentary

Comunidade published its last issue on November 28, 1979, over four years after it began. The selections below provide an overall view of how the newspaper changed over the years, the kind of editorial decisions it made, and the many difficulties it encountered.

“EDITORIAL

THE NEW JOURNEY

Here we are again, after an interval of two moths. Since July 1975, when it first appeared, the newspaper COMUNIDADE has been through various different stages, some of which were critical, due to the lack of funds that could pay for the expenses of printing, as the others were absorbed by the voluntary work or by the number of signatures.

In January 1977, the number of volunteers was reduced to a minimum and, with the very important collaboration of the Redactor João Medeiros, we both took the entirely responsibility for the newspaper. Of course we could count with the help of people like José Rosa, Esmeralda Sousa, Gil Prioste, Marcie Ponte, José Gonçalves, Maria Serrano, Almiro Fonseca, Martinho Silva, Angélica Ribeiro and others who, when available, showed their goodwill. However, goodwill alone does not put a newspaper on the street. The personal costs to each made their assiduous collaboration to COMUNIDADE difficult, which demanded more dedication as it grew. The last months were specially critical due to the fact that we are involved in the publication of the book “Portuguese Immigrants – 25 Years in Canada.” This project kept us busy for 24 hours a day and, suddenly, that free time on which we used to make the newspaper went missing. For that reason, the COMUNIDADE did not reach the homes of our subscribers. To all we ask for a little comprehension for the delay and for the fact that we weren’t even able to answer the many phone calls that the impatient readers made seeking an explanation that, we should say, is more than warranted. They are one of the most important reasons why we keep making this newspaper, which, only coming out once a month, has already created a necessity within the Portuguese community…

[Domingos Marques]” June 1978, Year 3, n. 38: 1 & 6 (trans. Gilberto Fernandes).

“EDITORIAL

…Finally reborn, the COMUNIDADE will now be showing up every week in the homes of those who want a friend every Friday, Saturday, or Sunday after a hard week's work. This is a paper that keeps you informed, helps you to live, to pass the time pleasantly that unifies, preserves and keeps alive the Portuguese culture and language in Canada.

Is it possible? If we take a look at the statistics, a Portuguese newspaper in Canada has a chance to survive commercially only when it takes to the scissors and clipping from this and that paper, comes out so well rearranged that we even think sometimes that it was not copied. The JORNAL PORTUGUÊS DE TORONTO tried about ten years ago to avoid the temptation (or necessity?) of the scissors, but it ended up in serious financial trouble. The NOVO MUNDO, perhaps the best Portuguese newspaper published in Toronto as far as originality of content, followed in its footsteps for refusing to take the easy way out.

Taking into account these past experiences, the newspaper COMUNIDADE does not have long to live. However, because we know that the Portuguese in Canada already form today an indestructible number, because we believe that a new generation of Portuguese - we still maintain a bit of idealism (a difficult task in this materialistic society), and finally, because we are aware of the will to work of those who support us, we have faith that a community newspaper, written for those who take an interest in what affects the Portuguese throughout Canada, has a more or less garanteed [sic] place in this society. The Italians in Toronto have a daily paper that employs roughly 140 people. They have been here longer and have passed the quarter-of-a-million mark but, we only arrived 25 years ago and 25 years are a quarter of a century. The contacts we have made over the past three months have been very encouraging. Our plan, which, we realize, is quite ambitious, has met with extraordinary enthusiasm. At this point we already count on 18 people, sincerely committed to giving some of their free time so that the COMUNIDADE may be available every week with fresh news of our people, of our neighbours, of this country that took us in and the one we had to leave behind. Some have journalistic experience, others are seeking it. Many with a great will to work and all believing that it is about time we felt proud to be what we are: Portuguese, children of Portuguese, immigrants children of immigrants, Canadians, a large community with a say in the future of this nation.

We need a voice. The Newspaper COMUNIDADE can be that voice” September 28, 1978, Year 3, Vol. 2, n. 1: 12

“COMMUNIQUÉ

As a founder of the group that originated the COMUNIDADE in 1975, and as Redactor of this publication until approximately June of 1978, I want to communicate to the habitual readers that I have left this role due to my difficulty with finding enough time to fulfill my tasks. Looking back at these three long years, in which every a good number of people - including myself – fought arduously to maintain the Newspaper COMUNIDADE on its feet, I feel proud for the courage, dedication and tenacity that we have and the work we realized, besides all the limitations that we were subjected to.

I hope that the same objectives that gave COMUNIDADE its unique character since the beginning – an independent newspaper that was discerning in its information – continue to navigate it in the future.

As I enjoy writing and communicating what I feel, I will continue to collaborate with COMUNIDADE, as much as it is possible.

I will also take this opportunity to wish a long life to the new path of the weekly COMUNIDADE and best success to its Redactor and Collaborators.

JOÃO MEDEIROS” October 5, 1978, Year 4, Vol. 2, n. 2: 2 (trans. Gilberto Fernandes)

“EDITORIAL

Happy 1979 for all. Another year for the world and some more changes for Comunidade back to being a monthly and a new editor. Why these changes and ups and downs? Because it is very difficult to produce a newspaper of quality in the circumstances we work and we aren't interested in producing a paper half filled with clippings from the other papers and the other half filled with...whatever.

(…) This means that sometimes a page takes days to prepare; that we have to plan well in advance how to fill those 12 pages and manage to interview or photograph those who don't always wish to be interviewed or photographed. And how, where to find time and resources to do it all? I don't know how Domingos managed to publish Comunidade weekly, I don't know but I rather guess... But that is a nightmare he alone can describe. Perhaps someday (if he breaks a leg and has to stay' put for awhile...) he will find time and courage to tell us about it. About that and other nightmares he has gone through for love of communitarian joumalism, and from which he has yet to recover. The paper owes its existence to a dozen of individuals on irregular basis and regularly, to a half dozen. [Attempts] to broaden that basis have failed against broken promises and walls of silence. We know many would want to collaborate but feel their lack knowledge or talent  and, specially, aren't used to participating, to contributing to a dialogue or the events that shape our lives. Almost all of us Portuguese grew up and formed our personalities surrounded, influenced by a closed society where the will to question and answer freely was not developed but, on the contrary was asphixiated. That is however another very reason for Comunidade to continue.

None of us ever made a penny of profit with the paper and some have lost some, but there are other compensations: a stranger who recognizes our name and thanks us for what we have written, readers who call as soon as the paper is late, letters that arrive from Brazil or Germany with a dollar inside asking us to send a few papers, just for the pleasure of reading them... And now and then there is someone who finally decides to join our group or replace one of us who leaves, exhausted. There are always a few readers who pay their subscription on time to answer our questionnaires and some advertisers expenses. Thus, we will continue. Up and down depending on our jobs, families, health, etc... But we will continue. [Fernanda Gaspar]” January 31, 1979, Year 4, Vol. 2 n. 9; 12.

“EDITORIAL

In January I stayed as the Editor-Redactor of Comunidade, this way giving my help so that the newspaper would not end. I knew from the start that this practically ‘solo’ work was not compatible with my personal and professional interests, but I hoped that with time other co-editors would emerge and more assiduous collaborators. However, eight months past, the situation has not changed, and my hope became more realistic… It is becoming impossible for me to balance the variety of content and vitality that I would whish to see in a newspaper under my direction and it is, therefore, time to change.

I will happily continue to collaborate and support Comunidade or any other substitute or descendant with similar journalistic objectives and quality, but on this number I end my responsibility of producing the Comunidade editorially.

For the record, I would like to  say that my work was always voluntary and my activity free from any interference. It was also an excellent experience and many times a true pleasure.

To all those who helped make the eight issues of Comunidade 79 a series of which I personally and, I know, many readers are proud of and carefully keep for future casual reading, my most sincere and friendly thank you” August 31, 1979, Year 3, n. 3: 3 (trans. Gilberto Fernandes) [J. Cândido de Morais becomes the new Editor].

“INTRODUCTION TO THE POLYGLOT

The Polyglot was born out of the necessity for communication between the Portuguese and the Hispanic communities. We are all latinos (honorably) and there is no sense in having a separationist spirit, which is pessimistic in itself and falls at the smallest adverse wind.

We are thousands of Portuguese; we are thousands of Hispanics. Both Portuguese and Hispanics need a quality newspaper, a free tribune extended to all the participants of our community. Therefore the Polyglot is not the Canaguês, nor Don Quixote de la Mancha (who is not yet arrived from his search for Sancho Pança). The Polyglot is the reader, interested in comprehending every story that we will be publishing in each number of our “Comunidade”” August 31, 1979, Year 3, n. 3: 3 (Trans. Gilberto Fernandes) [published in Portuguese and Spanish].

“MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER

When I took over this newspaper in July 1978 it was in an almost desperate attempt not to let go to waste the work and sacrifice of the small group of people who in July 1975 started Comunidade. They believed, as did I, that our community of immigrants needed a newspaper that would defend its interests; that would help it integrate into this new and complex society; a newspaper with no commercial interest. The support we received, especially during our first year was extraordinary. Because of this, we have been able to last so long. Yes, 50 months is a long time.

This however is the last Comunidade.

This year two internationally respected newspapers ceased to publish:The Times of London, and The Montreal Star. Comunidade, though smaller, will join them in the sepulchre of History's anals.

There is a fever gnawing at my spirit to write pages and pages relating what, I have learned in these five years.

This however is only a Publisher's Note, and so I'll stop here. Thank you to all those whose work enabled this newspaper to continue till now. For me, it was a valid experience. Domingos Marques” November 28, 1979, Year 5, n. 4: 12.

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