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Regional media outlets stand together in support of local news

The owners and publishers behind seven local and regional media outlets joined Salaberry-Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille in issuing a joint statement denouncing Meta’s pressure tactics, which have blocked access to Canadian news – including content produced by local and regional media  from Facebook and Instagram following the adoption on Bill C-18.

“I find it unacceptable that a multinational like Meta should attack our local media by blocking citizens from accessing their content,” said DeBellefeuille, who is calling on citizens to revisit old habits in the face of such intimidation tactics. “Most of the region’s media existed long before the advent of social networks,” she noted.

In a show of solidarity, representatives from area media affected by Meta’s actions met on August 30 with DeBellefeuille and Martin Champoux, the Bloc Québécois Heritage critic and MP for Drummond who attended virtually, to discuss the situation now depriving the population of access to locally produced news and information as well as the ability to “share” it online.

The meeting was attended by Hugh Maynard, the Gleaner’s publishing director; Lynn McWhinnie, the president of Chateauguay Valley Community Information Services which publishes The Gleaner; Julie Voyer, the CEO of Gravité Média; Jessica Brisson, the assistant publisher at Néomédia Vaudreuil-Soulanges/Valleyfield; Chantal Bédard, the general manager of Csur la télé – TVC Vaudreuil-Soulanges; Marie-André Prévost, the owner of Viva Média; Nathalie Descoteaux, the manager of community relations at NousTV (Cogeco); as well as Janick Tétreault-Moise and Emilie Niquette, the co-owners of INFOSuroit.

 

The owners and publishers of seven local and regional media companies met with Salaberry Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille on August 30 to denounce the pressure tactics employed by META to block access to news stories on social media PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

“To put Meta’s decision to block Canadian news into perspective: when you hear music played on the radio, in a restaurant, or a public space, there is a legislated arrangement called ‘SOCAN’ that pays a small royalty to the musicians and composers of the music,” says Maynard. This arrangement ensures musicians receive fair pay so they can continue to produce music for the enjoyment of all, he explains. “This is all that Canadian news publishers are asking from social media platforms like Facebook and Google through Bill C-18 – fair pay, so that they can continue to publish quality news for the benefit of all.”

Several other representatives spoke of the direct impact these tactics are having on the community, as readers who have become accustomed to finding local news updates in their social media feeds are now less informed. “For small rural newspapers such as The Gleaner, C-18 offers the prospect of fair compensation when online platforms use their news content. Without adequate compensation, small rural newspapers will not be able to sustain themselves and continue to produce diverse and quality journalism in rural areas,” said McWhinnie, while suggesting Meta’s actions are both heavy-handed and hypocritical.

DeBellefeuille explained that part of her goal in bringing the region’s media together through a joint declaration was to encourage citizens to change their news consumption habits. “Citizens can stay connected to local news and encourage local media companies. We know you value the work of journalists in our region; please continue to rely on them and refer to them, directly on our respective websites, to access a local press that reflects who we are,” concludes the joint statement.

“The vitality of local media also depends on the communities they serve: let’s show that we are supportive, interested, and engaged.”

The joint statement issued by area media can be read in full here: Joint Declaration 

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