A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Tyranny of the Click

A new study has found that overwhelming majority of Canadians believe in the critical role of journalism to democracy, and support more policies to defend the industry.
Financial pressures have strained Canada’s news industry, with layoffs in newsrooms across the country.
News Media Canada has proposed overhauling the Canadian Periodical Fund, which currently provides funding only to print magazines and non-daily newspapers to offset their mailing costs. That policy measure was supported by survey respondents, with 79 per cent in favour of amending the fund to include daily newspapers. “
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted the federal government’s $675-million investment in CBC and its French language network, Radio-Canada, as evidence of Ottawa’s action. “Reliable local and community news is essential for the functioning of our democracy,” he said during question period, which has meant journalists now cover “areas where they had never served before.”
Its hard to argue with the concept above but do we in fact have much reliable local community news left? Certainly the newspaper industry has become increasingly centralized and under the ownership of one or two monolithic media chains and television 'news.' is also largly concentrated in the hands of a limited number of large corporations. Thankfully there are still a multitude of small independent radio stations across the country which for many of us, particularly those of us in rural areas, is the only source of truly local news.

Many of us rely upon the evening TV news for much of our information however “One of the challenges that mainstream television faces is sameness. We’ve all scrolled through the listings and been presented with an endless array of programming that fits into advertiser-supported shows.
Advertisers want to speak to as large and as focused audience as possible. They have a product to sell and they want to place their product next to programming that appeals to a broad audience.
Therein lies the problem when it comes to the production of programming that challenges viewers to question their perspectives on big issues. Issues that lie at the heart of our society, globalization, human rights, equality, freedom of speech, freedom of faith, freedom to choose who they fall in love with, and free market economies.”

This brings me to the article from which the heading of this piece came from, a lengthy article titled THE ROLE OF QUALITY JOURNALISM IN OUR DEMOCRACY by Kevin O’Sullivan, Editor, The Irish Times which along with other insightful commentary addresses the impact that the internet has had upon “journalism”. A short extract follows......

“The perfect storm   a sharp economic downturn in many countries combined with a dramatic shift in consumption patterns and diminishing traditional brand loyalty   means much of the rich and diverse blend of media in Europe is under grave threat.  In that turbulent mix are some great newspapers and public service broadcasters.  The phrase ‘once great’ will be applied to many who will fall by the wayside. A heavy cost is likely to be paid to the detriment of society and democracy.
The open internet has ‘democratised’ content and enriched the conversation with the reader.  There has been tremendous change in terms of participation. But social media have also disrupted robust news gathering.  Many in the new camp of ‘breaking news’ don’t apply the same value system as the big established players.  This has helped fuel a mistaken view that ‘old fashioned’ news gathering and verification is of less merit.  It has been described elsewhere as “abandoning journalism for the tyranny of the click”.
One of the suggestions made in response to the questionnaire by News Media Canada was to increase copyright protections for content from news aggregators. The question then becomes how far should we go to 'protect' original 'news' content? Many news outlets are already 'protecting' their content with paywalls and blocking users that subscribe to programs like Adblock to reduce their frustration with addon crap, this blogger being one of those users. Will we all be PAYING for our daily news, be it print, digital or (I hope not) audio, what effect will this have upon our ability to know what is happening in our community, in our province and country and more importantly our democratic institutions.

Finally a few words from Kalene Harding at the The Odyssey on line “Since the very beginning, the purpose of journalism has been to report the truth to the public without being biased. Although this may sound simple, journalism involves a lot more than one would think. There is an ethics code that comes with being a journalist. Journalists have a duty to the public, to be honest and loyal. Unfortunately, this has not always been as easy as it sounds. In fact, in the past, it was very common for the government to attempt to censor publications. In some countries, they would try to control what people could and could not read. Of course, the governments of these countries were nowhere near the democratic government that is present in our own.”

With the advent of internet 'news' it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell truth from fiction, legitimate journalists from spin doctors and genuine news from “fake news”............... Now where have I heard that phrase before?

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