Have your say:
Saving Canadian journalism

What has the world become with for-profit giants and the power of algorithms curating the news?

October 27, 2020

Re: nationalpost.com/opinion/jerry-dias-we-need-a-canadian-model-to-save-canadian-journalism

Jerry Dias is right; crafting a Canadian strategy is critically important. It’s been decades since Marshall McLuhan’s seminal work on communication and technology – its impact on identity, who we are, and the fabric of society, has made waves. McLuhan, a theorist in the academic world, was also a media darling. McLuhan’s insightful, the medium is the message, caught the world’s attention, but did little to wake us up to the imposing industrial mindset – ultimately leading to the grave assault on journalism and democracy itself.

In the last several years, many from outside academia have sounded the alarm that media outlets are facing extinction – not only a familiar story of a broken business model but of the unprecedented growth of social media – a virtual paradigm shift in news ownership, production and dissemination. Journalism, however, is not like any other business. If this trend continues unchecked and forfeited to a model where powerful algorithms, gatekeeper platforms*, continue to supplant the high journalistic standards of committed professionals, the danger to the public good and trust in fact-based information will grow. We’ve reached a tipping point: what we see, read, and digest is transformative and with more and more people choosing to get their news online, many of the choices have already been made.

We the public, have been grabbed, as Dias says. Google and Facebook, the relentless giants that pay no taxes, have grabbed our attention in so many ways and we’ve seen that the collateral damage is immense! Unless we put pressure on our elected officials to act, our future is at stake. The erosion of public attitudes, independent thought and debate, civility and trust in our institutions, as a result of the industrialization of information selection and propagation.

Bravo to Dias, a savvy negotiator! By turning his attention to the control of news outlets, bleeding ad revenues and marginalization of professionals, he is demanding effective intervention and accountability. The Yale Committee report offers proposals that may help Canada push back. A scenario of doom whereby powerful interests, such as Google and Facebook, dominate public minds and spaces can be effectively addressed, and they must. Authentic journalism must be restored and not simply reprinted columns that appear and re-appear at the speed of a fibre optic cable.

Let’s embrace long-overdue action!

Caroline Jondahl
Ste-Catherine Street

* See Taylor Owen and Ben Scott Montreal Gazette, August 2020

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WestmountMag.ca or its publishers.

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  1. Anthony Moffat

    Kudos to you, Caroline, for supporting this initiative, both here and in your letter to the Montreal Gazette this weekend on the same topic. However, not everyone agrees, as comes out in some of the on-line comments to Jerry Dias, some of which reek of alt-right thinking, something which I believe is at the root of many such problems – even in Canada. But one of the comments slams Postmedia (which publishes the Gazette) for its biased reporting on Israel. I would recommend the Guardian as probably the world’s best news source currently. In Canada: the G&M and Le Devoir. BTW it’s up to all of us citizens to promote and support quality journalism, preferably outside the domain dominated by the monopolistic on-line giants.

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