It seems that a lot of people are worried that Canada’s Online News Act (Bill C-18), which went into effect in June, will make it more difficult for Canadians to find out what is going on in the world.
But the truth is, if Meta, Google, and other big players prevent you from reading content produced by Canadian news agencies, in almost all cases the tech firms will be doing you a huge favour.
In recent years, most Canadian news organizations have misled people on the big issues … unless you think sports is a big issue; their reporting of sports scores is actually quite accurate. Oh, and they are fairly precise on the obituaries. Almost all people that they report to have passed away are, in fact, deceased.
However, they have been dead wrong on such things as COVID-19, climate change, and energy transition.
Why on Google Earth would the tech giants be forced to share their profits with news companies that would not know the truth if it walked up and slapped them in the Facebook?
The mainstream Canadian news organizations have sold their souls to one or more of the Unholy Trinity of Media Demons:
- Pressure to please advertisers in order to increase revenue, which leads to sensationalism and shock journalism designed to maximize audience size rather than audience intelligence.
- Executives/managers/owners picking sides politically and on hot-button issues.
- Government funding that ensures partisan publishing and terrible journalism (i.e., the government props up organizations whose lack of meaningful content should have seen them go the way of the dodo bird long ago).
Speaking of dodos, if you think that your favourite Canadian news source has been accurate on the most important matters in recent years, please comment below and I will be glad to provide proof to the contrary.
Back to the Online News Act, Peter Menzies, senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and former vice chairman/president with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), put it well last week:
“Canada’s efforts to ‘defend democracy,’ as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put it, have turned out to be a counterproductive fiasco. The government hoped the Online News Act would salvage a struggling legacy news industry and become a model to be copied globally. But it is the most spectacular legislative failure in Canada’s living political memory.”
The flaws in the act are many and massive, as Menzies explained in his article (Canada’s Online-Media Legislation Hits the Buffers: Peter Menzies in the National Review).
Making Big Tech pay Canadian media organizations for links to their generally awful news coverage is akin to forcing Walmart to pay me for singing in their parking lot. The quality of my singing is certainly comparable to the quality of most Canadian news content – How They Fool Ya – and Walmart’s high traffic would be exposed to my work, just as Canadian mainstream news has been appearing on Google, Facebook, etc.
No one knows how thoroughly and for how long Canadian news will disappear from the dominant digital feeds as a result of the Online News Act, but you will actually benefit from this development – as long as you know where to turn for accurate, high-integrity news coverage.
To assist you with this crucial task, I have performed exhaustive research in compiling a comprehensive list of Canadian news organizations that have been accurate about such issues as pandemics, climate change, and energy transition in recent years. The list of all such media companies is as follows:
You are welcome.