Time to support local journalism

Editor’s note: the week of Oct. 1-7 is National Newspapers Week across Canada, a chance to reflect on the essential service newspapers provide with diverse, local, original content that can’t found anywhere else.

In recognition of this week, we’re welcoming a guest editorial from Paul Deegan, president and chief executive officer of News Media Canada.

Every week about 30 million newspapers are delivered across Canada.  More than four out of five people in Canada read newspaper content each week. Why do they read print and digital news sources? The answer is simple: Trust.

Canadians value and trust fact-based, fact-checked journalism. Journalists hold the powerful to account. They cover city hall, the courts, and the police. They also keep communities connected by reporting on everything from the high school football team to 100th birthdays.

But real journalism, created by real journalists – rather than by artificial intelligence – costs real money. If we want to sustain it, we must support it. One of the best ways for the local community to support local journalism is to take out an ad. When you buy a newspaper ad – whether print or digital – those dollars stay in the community and allow the publisher to employ journalists. Conversely, when you buy an ad from a web giant, those dollars flow south to California to companies that don’t employ a single journalist.

One thing government can do to keep scarce advertising dollars in Canada is establish tax measures to incent businesses to advertise with private sector Canadian news outlets and bring fairness to the different tax treatment of advertising purchased from foreign websites.

Governments – municipal, provincial, and federal – also have a role to play when it comes to their own advertising spend. It makes no sense that the federal government was spending almost twice as much on Facebook/Instagram – which are now blocking news in Canada – as they were on all print publications combined. Governments – at all levels – should earmark 25 per cent of their advertising spend toward trusted Canadian news sources. And the federal government should end the ‘double dip’ by eliminating commercial advertising associated with CBC News, the public broadcaster.

National Newspaper Week is a time to reflect on the Champions who report the news without fear or favour, and it’s a time to remember that local news needs to be supported by the community.

Paul Deegan is president and chief executive officer of News Media Canada.

To celebrate this year’s National Newspaper Week, News Media Canada has created a first-ever illustrated book, Champions, which honours notable Canadian journalists, editors, photographers, publishers and more.

Champions is a bilingual publication that includes 24 inspirational stories of people in Canada who have championed the truth in their own right through their contributions to the news media industry, their communities, and our country. The champions featured were selected by a panel of industry professionals based on an open call for nominations.

On Oct. 1, the Champions book was made available to purchase with all proceeds donated to First Book CanadaChampions will also be available as an e-book or as a free digital download at www.nationalnewspaperweek.ca.

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