Newspapers snubbed in Liberal government’s cultural policy

Stop the presses? Newspapers absent from culture strategy.

The Canadian government’s new cultural strategy all but snubs so-called legacy media, industry experts say, and left out some key measures that could have given a boost to struggling newspapers expected in the lead-up to the long-awaited announcement.

“I’m disappointed that the minister didn’t spell out more specifically her support for news media in Canada,” said Bob Cox, chair of News Media Canada, a group representing more than 800 print and digital media titles in the country.

He was one of several voices lobbying the government to grow the Canadian Periodical Fund, which supports magazines, periodicals and local newspapers, from $75 million a year to $350 million.

But Heritage Minister Melanie Joly left little doubt Thursday that the Liberal government finds little favour with traditional print news models.

“Our approach will not be to bail out industry models that are no longer viable,” she said. Instead, the government will focus on supporting innovation, experimentation and the transition to digital platforms.

The new framework doesn’t increase the amount of money in the fund, but will expand who is eligible to receive money, such as digital-only periodicals.

All that means, says Cox, is that more organizations will be fighting over an already limited amount of money.

“We didn’t get anything we were asking for,” he said.

The group will make recommendations to the department about how to restructure the fund and how to support innovation and transition going forward, Cox said.

Ottawa is ignoring an ongoing crisis in Canadian newsrooms, he said, and the onus remains on newspapers to create solutions and reinvent themselves as newsrooms are racked with layoffs and dwindling ad revenues.

“The idea that there should be public support for our newsrooms is really off the table now and that’s disappointing,” he said.

The government’s commitment to news media through changes to the periodical fund is quite vague, said April Lindgren, an associate professor at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism in Toronto.

“I think that they’re taking a very much hands off let the market sort it out approach,” she said, adding that public opinion is divided on government subsidies to news media.

She thought the federal government might embrace some tax changes to make it easier for news organizations to operate as non-profit organizations and receive funding from foundations.

Removing obstacles to philanthropic financing was one of several recommendations that came out of a report from the Public Policy Forum in January. The minister ordered the study as part of a broader review of Canada’s media landscape.

Lindgren said she’s surprised the government didn’t make such changes.

While the policies relating to news media are vague at this point, Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey gleaned some positive elements.

“Some of the things I’m pleased with is some consideration being given to innovation and experimentation,” he said.

The government said it “will give consideration to ways to better support innovation, business development, start-ups and export,” which it will present next year.

Postmedia is actively involved in innovation, Godfrey said, pointing to the organization’s launch of a digital development lab at Communitech Hub in Waterloo, Ont., in 2016. A development team there focuses on developing products for the company’s digital portfolio, among other things.

While it’s unclear whether any funding will be made available or what the guidelines for it would be, Godfrey said he hopes Postmedia would qualify for any funding available.

Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Parksville man arrested in relation to Mercedes, motorcycle fight

RCMP recommend assault charge for man driving Mercedes

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

BC lawn bowlers clinch national pairs title

Despite rain, QB club calls Canadian event a success

Guitarist explores beyond borders of genre, countries, music, coming to Qualicum Beach

Globetrotting Jesse Cook touring Island, performing in Qualicum Beach Sept. 27

RDN offers activities on Active Aging Week

The Regional District of Nanaimo will again offer a myriad of activites… Continue reading

Bear makes midnight front porch visit in Campbell River

A black bear paid a Campbell River family a midnight visit last… Continue reading

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Highway 19 paving between Parksville and Courtenay

Delays in both directions beginning Sept. 25

Legal society poster seeks complainants against two cops on Downtown Eastside

Pivot Legal Society became aware of allegations made against the officers after a video circulated

Jury to deliberate in case of Calgary man accused of murdering woman

Curtis Healy could be convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter

House arrest for man who abused disabled B.C. woman, then blamed her

‘Groomed complainant’ and ‘violated position of trust,’ judge says

Liberals want to know what Canadians think of legalized weed

The federal government will comb social media for Canadians’ pot-related behaviour

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen boasts of aiding Mueller investigation

Cohen could provide information on whether Trump’s campaign co-ordinated with Russians

Landslide forces evacuations of Philippine villages

More than 1,200 people in villages near the landslide-hit area were forcibly moved by authorities

Most Read