Toronto- Today’s announcement that Postmedia will close 15 weekly newspapers in Manitoba and the Windsor-Essex area of Ontario is more evidence that journalism in Canada is in peril.
“Ottawa’s attempts to support local media in Canada have been far too little, far too late. How many more closures are needed before the federal government takes meaningful action to address the advertising crisis our media face,” asks Daniel Bernhard, Executive Director of the watchdog group FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.
A recent poll by Nanos Research found that two thirds of Canadians support financial aid to failing news providers.
Consumption of local news has never been higher, as people turn to trusted journalists for timely information about how COVID-19 is affecting their community. But media organizations are not paid for their product, despite high demand. Instead, the vast majority of advertising revenues flow to Facebook and Google, which publish content produced by media organizations without paying for it. These companies are also responsible for vast amounts of COVID-19 misinformation, which they spread as both paid advertising and organic content. The shutdown of the economy due to the pandemic will deliver the final blow to our news media which has been on the brink for some time.
“Facebook and Google are feeding the virus with mountains of misinformation and suppressing the cure by bankrupting the professional journalists who work to correct the record. Canada needs to decide whether it wants high-quality, professional journalism or a free ride for Facebook and Google. We can’t have both” added Bernhard.
Countries around the world are taking meaningful action to end the unfair advantages enjoyed by Silicon Valley giants that are killing Canadian media. Australia is the latest country to take steps to require online media giants like Facebook and Google to compensate the media companies whose content they currently use without compensation. Similar initiatives are being pursued in France and the United States.
“It’s long past time for Ottawa to take this crisis seriously. Canadians expect our government to fearlessly protect the vital institutions of democracy.” Bernhard says.
ABOUT FRIENDS OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING: FRIENDS is the citizens' independent advocate for Canadian journalism, storytelling, and public broadcasting, and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.
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