Diminishing print success has made traditional media outlets across Canada vulnerable, and the federal government has taken note.
On Nov. 21, Ottawa announced a new plan to financially support Canadian journalism in its transition across outlets to digital business models.
The measures will include tax breaks for digital news subscribers, refundable tax credits for news outlets, and charitable receipts for non-profit media organizations’ donors. That goes a long way for journalism’s survival.
News media needs resources to maintain its journalistic independence; small towns and suburbs alike deserve the accountability and transparency of a strong free press. With the federal government’s recent action, that’s being recognized.
Although critics suggest the plan will erode journalistic autonomy, Ottawa’s aid allows for Canadian newspapers to address their financial shortcomings while assisting a dying print medium.
From the BBC to NPR, publicly funded journalism has seldom resulted in less credibility—these trusted outlets are run by experienced professionals who produce news and cultural programming.
Journalism holds people in power accountable for their actions. It offers an honest, objective narrative for communities who need it. When a city councillor leaves a constituent meeting early or a school’s administration announces a discriminatory policy, it’s the media who alerts the public.
A free press’ provision of information is essential to democracy: it represents every facet of community, informs a well-represented society, and provides truthful accounts of events. Journalism impacts everybody. That’s why governmental support is no hindrance to this honesty.
Local papers have sentimental and practical meaning to small communities that are also often ignored. They express the uniqueness of a community more than a national outlet, yet often lack the resources to stay afloat.
That said, the federal government’s funding is no catch-all solution, nor is it a permanent fix. News outlets must adapt to the structural pressures of running a paper today.
It’s not the government’s responsibility to solve that issue for them, but it’s a step in the right direction. Alleviating some of the daily pressures of journalism gives the industry time to solve those issues.
Tax breaks and credits allow the journalistic industry freedom to develop long-term solutions, such as creating opportunities like internship and networking programs for young reporters who can rehabilitate the industry.
Canada prides itself on fostering a healthy and transparent democracy across the country. That isn’t sustainable without journalism.
In the end, journalists’ services for communities across the country are valuable enough to warrant support for their survival.
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