I’m going to leave the health and hockey beat for a few minutes and talk about journalism and more specifically, local news. Local news coverage is dying in Canada and you should care.
Canadians read, watch and listen to more news in all its formats than ever before and they can find it more easily than ever. The problem is, few people are willing to pay for it via online subscriptions and the advertiser-supported models generally don’t come close to creating a sustainable revenue stream to support journalism.
So media companies – and I’m not going to apply “old media” and “new media” labels because, honestly, Yahoo! has been around for two decades so, when do they and MSN and Google become traditional vs. new? – cut costs by laying off people, including reporters.
And that means there are fewer different news sources covering city hall, or provincial court, or paying attention to your school board. And that’s when bad things start to happen.
My friends are well familiar with me saying things as I head to work, like, “just another day protecting our democracy.” Yes, I said stuff like that tongue in cheek. And yes, it’s actually true.
Strong local news coverage is the bedrock of democracy and journalism. Reporters in small towns create accountability in the system by reporting on town council and school boards and courts and chambers of commerce.
It’s like that old saying that integrity is what you do when you think no one is watching. It’s a good rule of thumb for assessing someone’s real character – and how much we need local reporting.
If you are comfortable with leaders who are lying and cheating and behaving badly because they think no one is watching, you will love where local reporting is headed right now. When they find out their bad behaviour was actually known? Sputtering indignation. Continue reading