Real news costs money; paying to subscribe will aid ailing industry

These are tough times for the news biz.

$50 million over five years toward newsrooms in “underserved” communities was promised in last week’s federal budget.

It’s not enough – not a fraction of what News Media Canada and others had suggested for the beleaguered news business. Some argue it’s not the role of government to support industry. That aside, an anemic level of government support is only one of many problems facing the news biz.

Among the others:

  • declining ad revenues

  • uneven tax treatment of media organizations

  • fewer subscribers

  • less demand for news as people retreat to “walled gardens”, reading only information that fits their beliefs.

We in the public can’t do much about problems with government support, taxes or ad revenues. We can help by acknowledging that real journalism is not free. And act on that information by paying for our news.

News professionals who care, who live among us, who follow stories – even the boring ones – while nurturing contacts and watching over local governments are critical to accurate news reporting.

Newspapers may cease to exist, but news-gathering skills are still important for other media

It may sound quaint, but this kind of news-gathering has worked well for a long time. And sure, we may not have print newspapers for much longer, but the rigour of tracking, gathering and disseminating news can still feed other forms of media.

Looking inward and digesting only what fits our preconceptions and avoiding seek out professional reporting puts real news in peril. This is when the much vaunted fake news can thrive.

Traditional – that is to say wide-ranging – news coverage is not free. So if we are to have it, we must get used to paying for it.

Money not the only solution

Paying for news is important, and a government bailout would help, but throwing money at the problem isn’t the only path back to health for the industry.

Changes to inconsistent tax rules would address some inequities – for example by taxing foreign companies selling digital subscriptions in Canada. Or granting charity status to not for profit journalism outlets.

The industry needs help on several fronts. The hefty government bail-out many hoped for didn’t happen. Tax changes don’t look promising. Subscribing and supporting the work of news organizations to produce quality journalism is within our powers. I recommend it!

Print predominates for reliability; the value of slow news

Slow news - what a great experiment. For two months Farhad Manjoo, a New York Times reporter, relied only on print newspapers for … [Read More...]

Real news costs money; paying to subscribe will aid ailing industry

These are tough times for the news biz. $50 million over five years toward newsrooms in “underserved” communities was promised in last … [Read More...]

Can the comments; laud the letters. The Atlantic makes the switch

Among the words of wisdom dispensed by Michelle Obama, speaking in Vancouver last week, were “don’t read the comments". Michelle and I are … [Read More...]