The Media Crisis Isn’t a Media Issue: It’s an Everything Issue

Feb 28, 2018

I wish it were an exaggeration to say that Canadian journalism is on the brink of extinction. As more and more Canadian advertising dollars flow into the pockets of Google and Facebook, we are losing the capacity to fund the professional journalism that holds politicians to account. Our very democracy hangs in the balance.

Yesterday’s federal budget was a missed opportunity to address this very real crisis before backbone firms like Torstar pass the point of no return.

But it’s not fair to say that the government doesn’t care about journalism. Reading through the budget document, I was struck by how the journalism file was treated as a self-contained issue that only media folks ought to care much about. Given the small size of the media constituency, the government elected to prioritize other important issues, like gender equality and pharmacare.

But the fate of Canadian journalism isn’t just a media issue: it’s an everything issue that breathes life into all other policy files. Maybe that’s the disconnect that’s preventing the government from closing the loophole that diverts up to $5 billion from Canadian media to American tech giants each year.

For example, yesterday’s budget placed heavy emphasis on gender equity – a very important issue for our country. But how would the pay gap have gained public traction without the professional journalists who have shone a light on this problem for years? Corporations aren’t inclined to draw attention to the pay gap: it boosts their profits. Concerned citizens might share gender equality articles on social media, but they won’t write the articles themselves or do the critical research that underpins them, nor should they be expected to.

The gender equity issue is first and foremost a media issue. There will be no action on gender equity without public support, and there will be no public support for increased gender equity without quality journalism. Professional journalists educate Canadians about the injustice of the pay gap and they let us know when the government fails to honour its promises. Nobody else can hold politicians to account. Without them, we won’t be able to pressure politicians to do the right thing.

The Canadian journalism crisis hurts everyone, not just the media industry.

If you’re concerned about important policies like gender equity, housing, food security, reconciliation or job creation, you should be concerned about the pending collapse of Canadian journalism. Journalists tell your stories. Journalists inform the public about your issues, and journalists keep public attention focussed on your issues so that politicians take them seriously. If Canadian journalism dies, so will your ability to influence policy for the better. Everyone should be concerned about that.

It’s time to close the loophole and save Canadian media before it’s too late. Add your voice to the campaign today.

Daniel Bernhard is the Executive Director of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. You can connect with him on Twitter at: @Sendinthewolf.


Related Documents:

Feb 23, 2018 — Blog Post: FRIENDS urges Canada's Premiers to help "Close the Loophole"
FRIENDS has reached out to Canada's Premiers appealing for them to urge Ottawa to close the tax loophole that encourages Canadian advertisers to spend on foreign online platforms, 80% of which ($4.4 billion per year) travels down a tax-free express lane straight to Google and Facebook in the US.

Video — Let's close the tax loophole and save local media: