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Tue Feb 27 7:31 pm  #1


Reaction Mixed To Feds’ $50 Million For Local Journalism

While I’m very sympathetic to the plight of the newspaper industry and broadcast newsrooms across Canada, the mixed reaction to the $50 million pledged for local news by the federal Liberals in their budget on Tuesday is terribly ironic to me.
 
For the Toronto Star, which rarely criticizes the Liberals, it’s nowhere near enough, it's only for underserved areas (whatever that means) and it doesn’t solve the problem which they claim has them on the edge of oblivion.
 
For the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, it’s a dangerous precedent that could well compromise the objectivity of those who claim the funds. And make no mistake about it, there will be many, many who will try to get a piece of this taxpayer-supported pie.
 
I also share this concern. While admitting I don’t really have an answer to what ails the news industry, especially print, I’m very, very reticent to see so-called objective journalists take any kind of government handout. We’ve all seen what that does to the CBC coverage of everything. No newsroom should be beholden to any ruling body, whether Liberal, Conservative or NDP, beyond obeying libel and slander laws.
 
It’s the old “slippery slope” argument and it doesn’t matter if a supposedly independent body gets to dole out the cash. There will always be a taint about that organization’s news, wondering if an article on the government’s latest initiative is there (or isn't there)  because they don’t want to lose their seat on the gravy train.
 
And by the way, whenever there was a federal or provincial budget, every TV and radio station used to lead with it, spending as much as the first 15 minutes of their newscast going over the details. Not this time. CityNews led with the subway riding idiot fallout at 6, while both Global and CTV went with a rehash of the Globe and Mail’s "Chief Saunders blames the gay community's silence for a serial killer" yarn.
 
That would never have happened in the old days. It either shows that times really have changed or there was so little in this new deficit-dependent fiscal plan that it wasn’t that newsworthy at all.
 
Toronto Star: Federal budget fails to provide real help to Canadian media, industry officials warn

 

Tue Feb 27 8:54 pm  #2


Re: Reaction Mixed To Feds’ $50 Million For Local Journalism

What a great way for the government to influence these publications. Who is going to bite the hand that feeds it? The objectivity of much of the content presented by the 'media' leaves me skeptical - this will not improve the situation. The creditability of publications that accept these funds will only be eroded. How can it not?

Maybe this is easier said than done, but any ethical news publication would stay a country mile away from these funds and let its readers know they do so. I would not object to paying more for a single newspaper or subscription knowing the publication is not under the influence of government (read taxpayers) funding.

Ultimately what will this funding accomplish? Perhaps, for a period of time, it may keep unsustainable publications afloat. But if readership continues to decline the end will be inevitable.

 

Tue Feb 27 9:08 pm  #3


Re: Reaction Mixed To Feds’ $50 Million For Local Journalism

darcyh wrote:

Maybe this is easier said than done, but any ethical news publication would stay a country mile away from these funds and let its readers know they do so. I would not object to paying more for a single newspaper or subscription knowing the publication is not under the influence of government (read taxpayers) funding.

you're joking, right?  sarcasm is so hard to delineate online.  Give them your payment.  they're losing a hundred times that, and circulation is dropping like the temperature in northern ontario.  Advertisers know print is a dead medium, and that's the crux.  Valued journalism be damned, if eyeballs don't get to sold content, then your product is obsolete.

Every print company will take the handout simply to stay alive.  As for your trumpian paranoia about them being in the pocket of gov't... no comment.

 

Tue Feb 27 10:33 pm  #4


Re: Reaction Mixed To Feds’ $50 Million For Local Journalism

CBC, like privately-owned media, is a mixed bag. Some very good investigative journalism at CBC TV, including Fifth Estate and reporters like Terry Milewski, have dished out to all governments, Liberal and Conservative alike, over the years. CBC radio shows like The Current have also been pretty even handed in exposing quite a lot that wouldn't otherwise see the light of day. And they generally do so quite objectively, nowhere near toadying to a sitting government and succeeding in present multiple perspectives.

On the other hand, the argument that the CBC is biased to the hand that feeds it is, on its own, completely unfair, unless one acknowledges that a privately-owned newsroom is also biased to the hand that feeds it. In both cases, I would say there are degrees of truth - cases here and there. And those degrees vary - some private newsrooms consistently produce better journalism than do others, and some CBC productions are routinely better than others. Both ownership models produce gems, crap and the realm between.

That said, as far as taking government money from this budget to support journalism, I have mixed feelings for a few reasons: I don't like to see taxpayer dollars going to prop up businesses that can't otherwise prop themselves up. I'd also rather see the money go into actual government services and such. And while the CBC is given an overall somewhat predictable budgeted amount which it can distribute internally at arms length from government, we'd possibly be entrusting a government agency to decide on recipients case by case - this makes me uneasy. Would the agency be at arms-length? Would the process be open and transparent? What would qualify for grant money? Who and how would it be juried? OTOH I also recognize the value of arts grants. I'd say there are pros and cons, like a lot of things. Maybe, overall, I'd like to see government take actual concrete steps to - say - making government information and records more readily available; enabling easier journalistic access to legislatures and Parliament; make your Cabinet ministers and your scientists (some improvements noted here) readily available for interviews; and generally doing more not to thwart journalistic coverage of government. These kinds of measures would truly make my day, as a journalist.
 

Last edited by Saul (Tue Feb 27 10:35 pm)

 

Wed Feb 28 3:47 am  #5


Re: Reaction Mixed To Feds’ $50 Million For Local Journalism

darcyh wrote:

 I would not object to paying more for a single newspaper or subscription knowing the publication is not under the influence of government (read taxpayers) funding.

BUT PRICE IS THE PROBLEM!!!
They are already charging too much for the Saturday Star as is. 
Bring the price back down to $2 and the paper will sell a lot better.

 

Thu Mar 1 10:53 am  #6


Re: Reaction Mixed To Feds’ $50 Million For Local Journalism

darcyh wrote:

What a great way for the government to influence these publications. Who is going to bite the hand that feeds it? The objectivity of much of the content presented by the 'media' leaves me skeptical - this will not improve the situation. The creditability of publications that accept these funds will only be eroded. How can it not?

Maybe this is easier said than done, but any ethical news publication would stay a country mile away from these funds and let its readers know they do so. I would not object to paying more for a single newspaper or subscription knowing the publication is not under the influence of government (read taxpayers) funding.

Ultimately what will this funding accomplish? Perhaps, for a period of time, it may keep unsustainable publications afloat. But if readership continues to decline the end will be inevitable.

Yup, can you say "Slippery Slope"?  I knew you could.
 

 

Thu Mar 1 11:14 am  #7


Re: Reaction Mixed To Feds’ $50 Million For Local Journalism

Radiowiz wrote:

darcyh wrote:

 I would not object to paying more for a single newspaper or subscription knowing the publication is not under the influence of government (read taxpayers) funding.

BUT PRICE IS THE PROBLEM!!!
They are already charging too much for the Saturday Star as is. 
Bring the price back down to $2 and the paper will sell a lot better.

Not sure the price is the problem.  In the many places that give away the Star for FREE, there are always plenty left in the pile.  When you can't even GIVE away your product, you're in big trouble.