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

Community gardens looking for more involvement

More interest means more expansion and funding

Time is running out to have your say about the cannabis framework

Albertans can take an online survey until midnight, Oct. 27

Cadet group looking for new members

Kids 12 - 18 can join the group to participate in summer camps and a variety of activities

Sylvan Lake flu clinics planned

Flu shots will begin on Oct. 23 across the province

Voter turnout down in this election

The voter turnout was estimated to be about 17 per cent, down from previous election

VIDEO: Tragically Hip singer-songwriter Gord Downie dies at 53

Downie had been fighting brain cancer for over a year

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Outspoken Mountie assigned to admin duties for refusing to shave goatee

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him

Victim in fatal ammonia leak remembered for his passion and smile

Friends and colleagues remember Lloyd Smith as someone who was always willing to help people

IIO concludes RCMP action not cause of wanted man’s death in Revelstoke

Man linked to Calgary homicide died in Revelstoke following five-hour standoff

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

Most Read