The main crux panelists are discussing is: As media owners continue to lose money, national and provincial media newsrooms shrink and we ask ourselves about the future of this industry in Canada, how do all these questions fare for local journalism?
Folks: My apologies for being a bit late -- there was a conference scheduling matter to tend to.
At the moment, Howard Law is speaking about how tax policy and government spending could be redirected to help local newspapers.
Howard: Without a doubt, whatever you look at -- any stimulus of print and online media will provoke outrage because of a threat to "independent journalism"
Howard: But I would ask them what the answer for a viable business model is. Other objectors would be owners, some of whom want to be the last as the competition sinks.
Howard: We need to look at who should pay for journalism. Print is migrating to digital, with an end in only a matter of time.
Howard: Print publishers aren't making money off digital advertising. Tech co's and such are making the good money publishing other peoples' content they're picking up at little to no cost.
Howard: Google profits... they have hoovered up the Canadian media advertising market.
Howard: We could impose a sales tax on foreign advertising in Canadian digital space. Or extend the five per cent content surtax in broadcast into the digital space.
Howard: To borrow CMG's piece-- CRTC could look at ISP revenue in media companies' revenue when working out contributions to Canadian content.
Carmel Smyth now turning to Janice Neil, incoming chair of the journalism program at Ryerson University.
Neil: What we're teaching -- we're not there to feed the industrial model, but we care about what our students are doing and where they will go.
Neil: About a year from now, we'll have a conference at Ryerson, connected with the SHHRC conference. It'll be focused specifically on local news.
Neil has been speaking about some projects students have helped with that bolstered local news coverage. Also how the coverage of even things like elections have changed.
Smyth: Three reviews of content and media underway -- Q -- does the public even know there's a crisis? IF not, why not?
Natalie Clancy: I'd argue the public made itself speak during the election.
Clancy: You have to count that was one of the issues in the last election -- having local news as an essential service.
Clancy: Local news has to be seen as an essential service.
Clancy: We're in an industry that never toots its own horn.
Clancy: It's not going to be there if we don't fight for it and tell people what they'll lose.
Jayme Poisson: I hear from readers the quality of news is going down. Infotainment. Click-bait.
Poisson: So I ask, why? They often respond with this is what makes newspapers money. But we aren't.
Poisson: Perhaps the reason it feels that way is because you don't pay for the news. You refuse to pay for it and then complain you don't get great journalism
Poisson: I don't think people understand what it takes to write news that is deeply in the public interest. The legal costs, the time it takes to put these stories together. Battles to get records that take years.
Poisson: I don't think it's just their fault either. People are always fascinated by the behind the scenes stories.
Poisson: Maybe if we focused on that PR campaign more, we might be able to change people's minds.
Poisson: It enrages me when people go "you just print whatever people say..." -- it just shows how they don't know the work that goes into publishing quality journalism.
Poisson: It's not the same as writing about a cat video. It takes more effort.
Howard Law refers to journalism.is.
Law: The other part is saving ourselves -- monetizing digital content. Shadi Rahimi's session was fascinating-- though we didn't ask if she's making money.
Law: How to bring in millenials? Shadi described it as through emotion. Could you graft that onto the local news model?
Law: In order to get the public policy people, the media industry and journalists themselves have to articulate the problem.
Law: I think there really is a role for the industry innovating. But that won't save the industry in the short or medium term.
Law: We can't exist in a society where we let local news die because we were uncomfortable with the public policy piece.
Neil: Interesting that the EU is going after Google. For being a content provider.
Neil: Two saving models they mentioned? Hyper-local investigative. Data journalism. It was dismissive of the news they're getting clicks on and making money on.
Neil: The Public Policy Forum has done one report, working on another -- headed up by Edward Greenspon (Janice's husband).