The Great Canadian Media Shake-up
The tectonic plates of the Canadian media landscape shifted again last week. For those of you who missed it, this is what happened:
On September 30, Rogers Media announced it was either killing, selling, or reducing the frequency of its print publications. This impacts Maclean’s, one of Canada’s most trusted and acclaimed news magazines, which will now only be published monthly instead of weekly. In addition, three French language magazines and 34 trade publications are heading for the selling block. This move, described by some as ‘radical’, demonstrates how far the newsprint industry is having to go to grapple with digital disruption.
For more information read the Globe and Mail’s Print Pullback article.
Toronto Star Testimony
On the same day, the National Post quoted the chair of Torstar Corp, John Honderich, testifying before the government’s Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. He related that the Toronto Star, which employed 470 journalists ten years ago, will only employ 170 journalists by the end of 2016. The simple math on this is 64% of the Toronto Star’s newsroom has vanished in the last ten years. I suspect this is representative of most major media outlets.
Aside from government handout requests, a constructive theme that emerged from Groupe Capitales Médias chairman Martin Cauchon’s testimony at the hearing was a request for additional copyright protections for news generators.
Platforms like Facebook and Google generate significant revenue by aggregating and publishing content that is not theirs. If the content in question is a picture of my dog, that’s fine. However, Facebook and Google also earn revenue by publishing news articles, intellectual property and content in your newsfeed without sharing that revenue with the generator of the content. Flouting the principles of copyright, these platforms are in many ways a parasite killing its host. If Facebook and Google continue to syphon revenue away from news generators, they will contribute to the slow death of a news industry they currently rely on for content.
Communication professionals need to lobby for legislation to protect the content of news generators.
This isn’t only happening to Canadian media outlets. There are new questions that communication professionals everywhere need to ask in the aftershocks of last week’s announcements. What happens as these publications disappear and their newsrooms empty? Exactly who do you think is going to be reading your next tweet or news release? Exactly what is your company paying you for if there are not enough journalists left to report on your news? Our very jobs as communication professionals hang in the balance.
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