2021-03-09 by W.M.
Toronto to join motion to promote and endorse local journalism
The motion calls on local authorities to endorse professional journalism that has seen a drastic decline during the global pandemic
The City of Toronto will join a movement to support local journalism amid the massive closure of Canadian news outlets.
Toronto’s mayor John Tory said the city responded to a request to join the other 14 regions in Ontario to pass a motion that raises awareness about the importance of “healthy news media.”
“This motion advocates to the provincial and federal governments the importance of local journalism and the need to ensure an ecosystem for healthy news media to serve all Canadians,” Tory said in an interview with the National Post.
Debate on the motion will come one day after HuffPost Canada and HuffPost Quebec ceased publishing on their websites. A report put the number of lost jobs at 23 people. Shuttering of the sites is among a series of cost-cutting measures enacted by parent company Buzzfeed.
The campaign, launched last spring by a grassroots organization ink-stainedwretches.org, aims to strengthen the Canadian news media that has lost more than 250 news outlets in the last 10 years. The closure was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced Canadian media outlets to lay off more than 2,000 journalists.
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To repair the damage, ink-stainedwretches.org calls on local authorities to pass the motion aimed at the federal government encouraging it to enact legislation that would create a “positive environment for local journalism,” said Mirko Petricevic, chief of the ink-stainedwretches.org.
“We’re asking them to raise their voices to endorse professional journalism and encourage the federal MPs to do what they can with regard to regulations and legislation to (ensure) a healthy environment for news outlets to survive and thrive,” Petricevic said.
“Reliable, accurate and responsible journalism is the bedrock of democracy.”
The City of Toronto will consider the motion on Wednesday. If approved, it will be forwarded to the members of the provincial and federal legislative bodies. The federal government will then decide what actions to take to support local journalism.
“It would be up to the other levels of government in looking at what they need to do,” said Gary Crawford, councillor of Scarborough Southwest who seconded the motion.
“We would support what the federal government ends up deciding to do, but this is really about us, the City Council, putting our voice forward on the importance of local journalism.”
Canadian journalism has been on the decline in the past decade due to a number of reasons, including the digital revolution that prompted many Canadians to get their news on social media. Since digital platforms received most of the money from advertising that news outlets depend on,hundreds of them have shut down or reduced operations, according to The Shattered Mirror report.
After the pandemic has crushed the news industry even more, the federal government announced last March it would launch a $30-million advertising campaign to raise awareness about the news media during COVID-19. It also intended to implement tax credits for newspapers that were promised back in 2019. However, many news organizations have criticized these measures, saying they are not enough to save Canadian journalism.
“Our aim is for a long-term solution, not for short-term bailouts,” Petricevic said.
The City of Toronto also highlighted the significance of reporting accurate news amid the global pandemic.
“Local journalism matters and makes a vital difference in every part of our country,” reads the city’s notice of motion.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the importance of local news media in helping provide residents and businesses with vital information and to dispel misinformation.”