Which truth matters?

Yet another report has been written on the train wreck of Canadian news media. Frankly, the Library of Parliament is already overloaded with such studies. There is always lots of hand-wringing and consoling for each new version but this new one can be guaranteed to gather dust as the many written before. It seems to be essential that such reports be written by a master of the journalism profession and they at least make for a good read.

But will this report get any further than its predecessors? Fat chance. Written by Edward Greenspon of the Public Policy Forum, the report calls on government to basically ensure that there is no tax advantage for Canadian companies to advertise on foreign websites. If that measure alone could redirect $200 million to $300 million back to Canadian news gathering and journalism, it would be a good start.

But there is still a chasm to cross for news media interests to meet the Internet news needs of Canadians. And nobody could be eager for the American owners of PostMedia to introduce their Canadian version of the National Enquirer and its alternative news to consumers. Even if it might be the first time Postmedia shows a profit!

The report certainly recognizes the failing coverage of local news but this alone does not justify Canadians spending tax money on a new in-depth Canadian Press organization. If you are old enough to remember the days when Canadian Press produced its Style Book and its Caps and Spelling companion piece, that was something that deserves support. We are on a slippery slope with the abominable misuse of English both in broadcast and print in this country and government help there would be appreciated.

What we fail to understand is Greenspon’s ambivalence towards the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio Canada. Maybe he sees the Corp as having already sold out.

But to whom? The CBC is hardly loved by the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission. It has been beaten to the ground by Bell and Rogers in its desperate attempt to provide decent sports coverage for Canadians and governments of all stripes deny it support for its struggling news service. And yet Greenspon wants to take away the bit of revenue it is getting for its timely and respected Internet news coverage.

As Senator Keith Davey remarked to us when he launched his 1969 study of Canada’s mass media, “Can you think of a better way to be noticed by the news media?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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