You’ll notice something different about the editorial front page of today’s print edition: it is blank.
It represents a very real phenomenon — local headlines and local newspapers are disappearing across Canada.
A large part of the reason is the dominance of global tech giants such as Google and Facebook, which refuse to pay a fair price for content created by Canadian news outlets. They also drain off more than 80 per cent of all digital advertising revenue in Canada.
Our blank front page is part of a nationwide campaign by News Media Canada to raise awareness of the danger this phenomenon poses not only to local media but to democracy itself.
Without reliable, trusted journalism that informs you and keeps governments accountable, our democracy and the ability of citizens to respond to local issues will suffer.
It costs real money to report trusted, fact-based news. Because of the virtual monopoly of Google and Facebook online, dozens of local newspapers across Canada have closed in recent years and hundreds of journalists have lost their jobs.
It’s time for Ottawa to act.
The best solution is for Ottawa to follow an Australian example and adopt legislation that allows newspapers to negotiate a fair price for use of their content, with massive fines if Google and Facebook refuse to co-operate. Importantly, no new government funding, taxes or fees are required for this solution.
We encourage you to read the Open Letter.
We also encourage you to let your local MP know you want Ottawa to level the playing field.