Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, you learn that the media is seeking a bailout in Canada.
Turning to the editorial pages of Toronto’s National Post during a recent stop in Canada, I discovered that the media is the news in Canada, too. The topic there, however, is the ultimate financial survival of the media and a bonehead idea to rescue it.
Some years ago, the Canada Periodical Fund was established “to provide financial assistance to Canadian print magazines, non-daily newspapers and digital periodicals to enable them to overcome market disadvantages and continue to provide Canadian readers with the content they choose to read.”
Now, members of News Media Canada want the Fund expanded to “address the current issues facing the dissemination of Canadian perspectives.” In short … they’re asking for a bailout for the dailies.
The proposal shuts out foreign-owned publications and startups, and would require the paper to be edited, designed, assembled and published in Canada. In other words, only the existing Canadian newspapers would be eligible for aid.
“To be eligible,” writes Post Columnist Andrew Coyne, “news organizations would have to engage in regular and significant production of original reporting,” but adds that there doesn’t seem to be an agreed-upon definition of “significant,” “original,” or even “reporting.” What about opinion pieces?
The subsidy to newspapers can only be used to pay the cost of labor, with a 35 percent rebate on journalists’ salaries up to $85,000. “Money is fungible,” writes Coyne. “It doesn’t come with little labels on it, so yes, you could say the money went to reducing the cost of labour.”
“The one thing it will not do is save the industry. It won’t fix our problems. It will just make them easier to avoid,” comments Coyne. “Worse, it will draw us into the political arena, not just as observers, but as an issue in our own right.”
Tories on the right naturally oppose the proposal saying that it is “intrinsically contrary to the concept of a genuinely free and independent media.”
Liberals, on the other hand, are expected to run on “saving the news,” calling for support of the media industry that will make the difference between life and death, while citing that the Tories want to cut employment. Sound familiar?
“Will the Tories really dare to antagonize us (the media) by taking away our funding?” Coyne says. A blackmail statement if I ever read one.
Returning home, I note that The New York Times, arbiter of fake news, continues to struggle financially. After lopping-off 109 copy editors since early this year, more can expect pink slips if the current round of voluntary buyouts doesn’t get enough takers.
“This proves what we suspected all along,” said Grant Glickson, president of NewsGuild, the union representing the Times editorial staff, “The Times ‘restructuring’ of the newsroom is really about the bottom line and not about making the editing process more efficient, as they once claimed.”
Meanwhile, President Trump continues to appropriately criticize the media for its fake news, while the leftists at the Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC, like Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow, regularly spew their hatred of the president.
Of one thing I am certain … a media bailout in the U.S. would have a snowball’s chance in hell.