The LeaderPost can’t even sell and ad for the premium spot in the paper, on its front page. That ad on the bottom is a house ad, for their own product. This is the Tuesday, Nov. 21 edition. There were only two display ads in the whole 20 printed pages that were paid for by paying clients.

 

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland released her fall economic statement on Nov. 21, also known as a “mini budget.” And one of the key points was an increase in the federal subsidy for journalists.

Here’s what the economic statement said, “Supporting Journalists and News Organizations.”

“Independent journalism makes our democracy stronger—and local journalism is essential to providing communities with the information they need from coast to coast to coast. However, the changing nature of the news industry is threatening the existence of local news across Canada.

“To ensure a strong and independent press can continue to thrive in Canada, the 2023 Fall Economic Statement proposes to enhance the Canadian journalism labour tax credit. Effective for labour costs incurred on or after January 1, 2023, the federal government proposes to increase the yearly limit on labour costs that can be claimed per eligible employee from $55,000 to $85,000, and temporarily increase the tax credit rate from 25 per cent to 35 per cent for a period of four years.

“This measure would cost an estimated $129 million over five years, starting in 2024-25, with $10 million per year ongoing.”

What a load of crap. You know what, federal government? You can take your journalism subsidy and shove it!

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What sort of bovine feces can say in one paragraph that “Independent journalism makes our democracy stronger,” and then increase the subsidy such that over a third of journalists’ paycheques are subsidized by the federal government?

Here’s some harsh realities: the mainstream media went to the feds and begged for these subsidies. Then they asked for the government to make Facebook and Google pay for links. Facebook then blocked all news links from said mainstream media, and their online views (and related revenue) plummeted like a stone. What’s left of the newspaper industry that was clinging to the few views they do get online saw those views disintegrate. When the Kamloops This Week folded recently, it specifically cited Facebook blocking action causing their online views to flatline.

Good, job, feds.

All of this is happening at a time when a huge swath of the survivors in the Canadian news media are soon going to be on the unemployment line. Newspapers are folding by the dozen. A few months ago, 80 folded in Ontario. Three folded in BC in the last two months. A lot of radio and TV isn’t doing much better.

I asked my kid to pick up a LeaderPost Tuesday night from 7-Eleven. In 20 pages, it had a whopping two display ads that businesses actually paid for, and one page of classifieds. It had more house ads (for their own product) than actual paying display ads. Paying content was less than 9 per cent of the paper, when the accepted standard used to be around half.

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Put another way, in a city of a quarter million people, the sales department of the LeaderPost could not convince a measly three people to buy a display ad with their print product. By my math, Pipeline Online has almost ten times as many display advertisers as the printed Tuesday LeaderPost.

Indeed, Pipeline Online has more ads running in this one editorial than the LeaderPost had in a whole edition, and I’m a one-man band working in my basement. Maybe that’s saying something.

Why is that?

Maybe nobody wants to buy their product because no one wants to read their product anymore. And perhaps its because of what they, and all the other mainstream media are purveying.

As someone whose spent his life in the newspaper industry, and knows it intimately, I don’t expect a printed paper to survive anywhere in Canada within two years, barring a few independents. And even then, unless those independents buy the presses, they might have no one left to print them. Around 2005, when I worked for the Battlefords News-Optimist, Glacier Media bought. Their market capitalization at the time was around a third of a billion dollars.

On Nov 16, you could have bought two of their shares for a quarter, and got a nickel and two pennies for change. Their market capitalization is hovering around $13 million now. It varies by 10 per cent every time the stock goes up or down a penny. The whole company is likely worth dramatically less than their real estate.

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C-18 debacle

The mainstream media wanted even more federal backing, with Bill C-18. The got it. And now the general public is getting much, much less news as a result of social media blocking, and media outlets are dying like flies.

The net result is, whether it’s the federal government or the large corporate giants like Facebook/Meta and Google, if news is being blocked, it’s censorship, period.

Elon Musk and Michael Schellenberger have been going to great depths to explain how Twitter, before he bought it, was dramatically curtailing the spread of anything against the left-wing narrative. Pipeline Online has seen Facebook ask for $40 to show a post to “up to 6 more people.” It’s happened several times, including a story quoting then Saskatchewan Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre, formerly Minister of Energy and Resources. God forbid anyone be allowed to read her stance on issues of national importance.

So whatever is “allowed,” as it were, better fit a specific narrative. That narrative is generally woke, left wing, Marxist, gender this, gender that, climate change nihilism with a good touch of anti-human flavour, to boot.

If those narratives sound familiar, it’s because they’re also precisely what the federal Liberal government has been espousing in Canada, and the Democrats have been pushing in the U.S. It’s also the same narrative that permeates most university campuses now.

So when Freeland announced a huge increase in subsidies to journalists, what message do you think she’s really saying? Especially when the Liberals are collapsing in the polls and a no-confidence motion could mean an election any day?

Maybe you should make sure your coverage fits our narrative, if you want to keep your recently increased subsidy, perhaps?

I must state, when COVID hit, I was laid off from my job of 17 years with Glacier and its predecessors. Three months later, they brought me back on a term position, as a “local journalism initiative reporter.” This was yet another federally-funded subsidy program, at the request largely of the newspapers and other media. It created a pool of reporters across the country to provide coverage for “news deserts.” Any publication in Canada could use their writing, for free. After all, they had been paid for by the federal government. In the summer of 2020, it was either take that job, covering the provincial legislature, or let my kids starve. I was caught in the federal subsidy trap, and I wanted out.

I did the Local Journalism Initiative job for nine months, during which time thankfully no one ever told me what to write. But I hated the fact it was a federal program. I hated the idea my job depended on the feds’ largesse. It made me sick to my stomach. As soon as it was feasible to leave to prepare to launch my own, independent news site, I did, in 2021.

And as my own boss, I can tell you, Pipeline Online does not accept any federal subsidies, not will it apply for any.

Which of the other media will say the same?

 

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