Kirk LaPointe: Thank you, Ottawa, for saving journalism from the tools it needs


A confusing week where liberals try to help the media but fail to help themselves

Welcome to another episode: “We are from the government. We are here to help.

Yes, thank you federal Liberals, your assumptions about the profession of journalism, how it should work and be funded, are definitely on point. Last week, we journalists took a sip of your medicine – some from the spoon of the government, some from the spoon of the ruling party.

Let’s take these one spoonful at a time.

For a moment there, you deserve the benefit of the doubt on the idea that Canadian media should share in the spoils of behemoths Google and Facebook because they dominate online advertising. They were telling us how – by taxing online links, in the first world – they lost all credibility.

Your Bill C-18, now winding its way through a Senate committee, is an example of how the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Some of the online giants I know in your party are insisting that this is the best solution to forcing them to share news on their platforms. They look at me and think they are helping the media. I worry about them.

What they fail to understand is that a) the search and social media platforms of these online giants are the backbone of digital news growth that is critical to our future business model of delivering news to audiences at no cost, b) many companies have been around for a long time. For this, Google and Facebook have satisfactorily compensated, and c) the giants don’t need news to remain so successful, and d) at least in the case of Facebook, it seems difficult to block news from the platform to avoid the link tax – and presumably, they are walking away from their deals with media companies.

The link tax problem is intractable because it is difficult to distinguish between what is copyrighted and what is news and what is not. It will be a very slippery slope. No other country has chosen to use this approach. As they understand, the internet is not for connecting for free and charging as you do. What is needed is legislation that encourages negotiation and arbitration in the event of disputes – the Australian model, which rejects the link-tax idea.

But your leader, the Prime Minister, is so obstinate and obstinate that he once again mocked Facebook this week as “too irresponsible and out of touch” and mocked the internet giants as “dangerous to our democracy”. Our Economy”

Unless the Senate actually passes the bill as a polite second opinion chamber and the bill is sent back to the Commons for reconsideration, the legislation will be incredibly damaging. The media loses audiences, the media loses the ads that go with it, the media loses deals, and the titans go to work the next morning as if nothing happened.

Thanks to the efforts of the Vancouver Quadra Riding Association, that’s what happened at your party’s national convention last weekend. Re: Good Idea, Road to Hell.

A cross-party resolution from the riding called on the government to “restrict publications to material whose sources can be traced” and hold online information services “accountable for the accuracy of the information they contain”. The resolution is said to be aimed at curbing misinformation.

There are three simple, non-trivial implications: this accuracy requires a checker and who knows what it looks like, if sources cannot be identified and who knows what it looks like, information would not be published, and anonymous sources are often important. Because yours and other governments are not telling us important things. I believe this proposal will help the government more than the media.

I’m dealing with myself, but your leader’s father, the architect of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, must be shouting “Foodle Doodle” from his grave about constitutional violations. Anyone who takes Introduction to Law in Class 11 knows this too. Our leader, Pierre’s son, has taken his sweet time – three days – saying his government will not abide by the resolution and will “never compromise the ability of journalists to do their professional and independent work”.

On top of that, of course, it’s laughable. This is an ill-conceived statement of government, cleverly crafted, and a mockery of our freedom of information laws. This is the same prime minister who was ridiculed for media coverage of Chinese interference in the last election and who this week fired the embassy official who was allegedly a criminal. The story of his breakout joint performances with the opposition reminds us of the good reason why daily exchanges are called question time, not answer time.

To add a little kerosene to the pan, Vancouver Center Liberal MP Heidi Fry opined that a good topic for a session with tech titans last week should be “Tech Giants’ Use of Intimidation Tactics.” A great strategy to bring them to their knees! Call them bad names! Facebook decided not to show the president of international affairs; A statement was read on the record. The session title is changed, the executor is called, but the connection is rejected.

Liberals are not upset about all this; It is the media business that loses sleep. Thanks so much for your helping hand, guys.

Kirk LaPointe is a business publisher and executive vice president, editor, of Glacier Media in Vancouver.

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