Print media and newspapers have found themselves at the centre of a controversy between the Canadian government and tech giants Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, and Google. The Online News Act, or Bill C-18, was passed on June 22 and will take effect later this year. It will force tech companies to pay for the news articles that appear on their platforms; the alleged intention is to compensate news organizations for the plummeting advertising revenue in traditional print media seen in recent years, as advertisers move online.
To avoid being subject to this legislation, Meta will begin blocking access to news on its platforms in Canada, while Google has similarly promised to remove Canadian news links from its search engine.
Such threats are not good news. In a statement, La Presse said Meta’s decision to block access to quality news written by credible journalists “will be damaging to our democracy, since it will remove all professionally produced information from one of the most used virtual public places in Canada.” The not-for-profit news organization cautioned this would lead to disinformation and the proliferation of fake news. It is a strong message in the face of very sobering threats to Canadian journalism. It is especially concerning for smaller papers already fighting for a foothold on a slippery media landscape.
At this point, we are not certain of how Bill C-18 and the actions of Meta and Google will impact us at The Gleaner. What we do know is that many of our readers follow us on social media, and it is possible that this will soon no longer be possible. While we appreciate every single “like” and “share,” we would also like to encourage people to visit our website directly, sign up to receive article notifications by email, download our app, and subscribe to the newspaper. In celebration of our 160th anniversary, and as part of our “Support your Gleaner” campaign, we are offering unlimited access to the content on our website until the end of September to ensure our community remains informed and engaged. We believe, now more than ever, that local news matters. We hope you agree and will help us as we navigate this potentially turbulent turning point for Canadian media.