Call this one ‘The Search For Truth Gets More Lonely’. If you’ve been paying attention, it will come as no surprise that the industry we collectively describe as mainstream media in Canada is on life support, and there are no miracle cures on the horizon.
With political life in the Excited States resembling a script by Paddy Chayefsky, or perhaps a novel by George Orwell, the places we can trust to tell us what’s really happening are disappearing. The latest update comes from a taxpayer-supported effort called The Public Policy Forum, in a report written by Edward Greenspon, a former editor of the Globe and Mail.
As the report was being released, there came word of more layoffs at the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette, and that won’t be the end of the story. In Winnipeg, the Free Press is quietly trying to get its union to agree to re-opening the contract, and the owners are looking for a buyer for the paper.
Things are just as bad or worse in television. Late last year the CRTC warned that half of Canada’s local TV stations could be off the air in less than four years, unless more revenue can be found to support local news programming. Greenspon’s report is called The Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age . A variety of possible solutions are being considered, including a new tax on streaming services like Netflix. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, and even if it did, there’s no guarantee that any money collected would be used to support journalism.
What are the implications for democracy? Look what’s happening in Washington. The leader of most powerful nation on earth refuses to answer questions from mainstream media, accusing them of peddling fake news . He delivers his ‘alternative facts’ via twitter.
At the risk of sounding like a redundant ‘Chicken Little’, I say again, it all very scary.
I’m Roger Currie