The media and the message
The Shattered Mirror, released yesterday by the Public Policy Forum, is a well-written paper, filled with thoughtful ideas about the future of Canadian media while all around us is in disarray. Typical is Maclean’s, now relegated to being a monthly again. When I joined the newsmagazine in 1978, it was about to go weekly, able to do so because federal legislation steered advertising dollars away from American publications to Canadian ones. So, I’m a long-time fan of government intervention.
This new document does not recommend that Ottawa either prop up or pay to run a failing media outlet, but there are reasonable suggestions about directing new tax revenue for digital innovation and civic-function journalism. We badly need both. Moreover, the revenue could bring about journalistic coverage of courts, city halls and legislatures.
The report also cites sad numbers. Since 2009, 236 newspapers have closed. The Report of the Special Senate Committee on Mass Media, the so-called Davey report published in 1970, talked about a total of 485 newspapers, radio and television stations in 103 communities. So, of that universe, more than half closed just in the past seven years.
Already there are pundits who are railing against the Forum’s words as if government control would surely follow. But there would be fewer Canadian singers without content rules on radio. And no Canadian films without tax relief. So, journalists, swallow your stinking pride before it’s too late. The future need not look like the recent past.