Conventional media around the world is having a tough time adapting to the information age. Newspapers are restructuring, merging or simply closing their doors as digital news makes the initial medium obsolete. Ad space on a news website sells for a fraction of what print ads used to. Television news is having a terrible time in drawing viewers as they are forced to compete with hundreds of channels including on-demand packages such as Netflix. Radio stations are losing listeners to satellite radio and podcasts. It is simply damn tough for media to make a buck in that environment.
One niche that conventional media continues to hold is that of traditional reporting. Bias should be set aside for reporting and most publications and reporters do so. Blogs and YouTube videos are no substitute for reporters on the ground or trained correspondents around the world. My blog for example is highly biased and selective in what it will report upon. It is no substitute for proper media and I don’t claim it is. Few blogs are though people are increasingly and unfortunately using them as news sources.
The cry of “fake news” is constantly trotted out from people on all sides and all levels of the political spectrum. There truly is fake news out there and it is getting more and more difficult to sift through it for the truth. Cynicism is growing among the populace and people are losing trust in media from all sources. Ironically that tends to drive people even further to “alternative” sources of information which exasperates the situation even more.
Reporters are expensive and as media revenues continue to plummet we see more contraction of media outlets as they try to say solvent. In news reporting, accuracy and a lack of bias are critical if this niche is to be held. Media sources need to be trusted if they are to survive. The actions of the Trudeau government have been destroying that trust.
Now in establishing that there is a problem facing media today, we needed only wait for government to intervene and make the problem worse. Trudeau of course did exactly that.
Perhaps it was well meaning but it is impossible to tell. In dangling $600 million in tax subsidies for media outlets last fall, the Trudeau created more distrust in the Canadian media than dozens of shitty editorials ever could. Whether it is the case or not and whether it is fair or not, it now looks like Trudeau outright bought the favor of Canadian media.
The statement below makes it even more galling to folks:
To determine eligibility for the credit, the government plans to create an independent panel drawn from the “news and journalism community,” which will also “define and promote core journalism standards (and) define professional journalism.”
An “independent panel” eh? This handpicked panel shall define journalistic standards no less. In other words, the government will pick and choose who they deem worthy for this subsidy. How many media outlets will or have danced like trained monkeys in order to get this subsidy which is being dangled in front of them? We may never know but it casts doubt upon the credibility of every media outlet that may qualify.
Defenders of this subsidy scheme could try to dismiss opposition to it as being paranoid or too cynical. Well, in light of last week’s revelations from the Jody Wilson-Raybould it is clear that concerns about government control of media are very justified.
There were so many bombshells dropped in JWR’s testimony that it is hard to keep track. One striking statement however was on how Trudeau’s Chief of Staff made assurances that they could get favorable media when they need it.
Here is the exact quote:
“Katie Telford thinks it gives us cover in the business community and the legal community, and that it would allow the prime minister to say we are doing something. She was like “if Jody is nervous, we would of course line up all kinds of people to write op-eds saying that what she is doing is proper.””
“All kinds of people”? Which people? Which publications? Which channels?
This is not minor people. I and I am sure many others now look at every article out there wondering whether or not it was created by one of those “all sorts of people”. I am sure that the vast majority of articles and op-eds out there weren’t directed by the Prime Minister’s office but how the hell am I to know which are which?
Shortly after Trudeau fired Jody Wilson-Raybould in January, the Toronto Star leaped into Liberal spin mode in trying to justify the move.
That was a rather well timed hit piece on Jody Wilson-Raybould and it came out well before the scandal broke. It certainly makes one wonder how fast those “all sorts of people” were rounded up to start trying to spin on what has turned into the biggest Canadian scandal of a generation.
One almost feels embarrassed for Heather Mallick with the Toronto Star as she clearly participates in journalistic prostitution of the highest order. Mallick has churned out piece after piece trying to tell Canadians that there is actually no scandal to be seen. It is almost nauseating to read the tripe she has written in hopes of distracting Canadians from this massive scandal while currying favor from Justin Trudeau.
Mallick’s lame efforts remind me of good old Baghdad Bob who tried to assure Iraq that all was well while the rockets were literally landing behind him.
Rather unconvincing to say the least.
Time will tell whether Mallick will get that Senate seat that she so clearly covets. Perhaps she is even aspiring to the Governor General’s throne.
It is going to be tough but now is the time for media members with integrity to step up and help assure the Canadian public that they are not simply a tool that has been purchased by the Canadian public. Most media members are truly independent but now it will be incumbent upon them to convince us that this is the case. It’s not fair but that is how things stand today.
Media credibility was in tough shape months ago. Trudeau’s recent actions have unfortunately left it in tatters. Let’s hope that they can recover because an independent media is critical to a free society.