By Kathy McGrath
We can get a vast amount of information from big internet search engines with a simple click of a button, so why bother reading local news sources? We’ve created this Top Ten list to illustrate why regional news is essential:
1. Local news increases voter turnout at elections.
2. Local news holds municipal politicians accountable to the community.
3. Local news is trustworthy because it is written by recognized journalists.
4. Local news galvanizes people to block undesirable developments or have them revised.
5. Local news directs residents on how to get involved in community affairs.
6. Local news allows neighbourhood businesses to place targeted ads.
7. Local news increases attendance at community events and bolsters donations to local charities.
8. Local news provides jobs in the community and keeps advertising revenue in Canada.
9. Local news keeps residents informed during a crisis on what is happening in their area.
10. Local news is about you and your neighbours!
If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you care about local journalism. That’s a good thing because Canadian print and media companies of all sizes are not doing well right now. In fact, between 2007 and 2019, daily newspaper revenues fell from $2.7 billion to $900 million, according to the non-profit Public Policy Forum.
There are a few reasons for this. Massive internet companies like Facebook and Google simply scoop up Canadian news content without paying for it. Also, online classified sites like Craigslist and Kijiji provide free ads. This takes revenue from Canadian newspapers, forcing them to lay off staff or close operations completely.
On February 4, News Media Canada launched a campaign called “Disappearing Headlines” to inform people about this problem and to try to do something about it. Almost 100 large and small newspapers across the country featured a blank front page to dramatically highlight how local journalism is shrinking. You might have noticed that the Star and the Scarborough Mirror both participated.
In an Open Letter to Government, the papers called on Ottawa to act quickly to address the problem. The letter asks the government to follow Australia’s example and adopt legislation that allows newspapers to negotiate a fair price to use their content, with massive fines for companies that don’t co-operate. If you agree with this initiative, let MP Gary Anandasangaree know you want Ottawa to support our trusted Canadian news sources.