In Canada, the journalism industry was always in perpetual denial.
It was always a hard sell kind of denial: we are important! We are great! We are a necessity!
Well, journalism was important, but just because you called yourselves journalists doesn’t actually mean you ever were journalists. We never had a Canadian version of it because there was mere emulating those south of the border. We never had innovations, or distinct schools of thought.
So that the industry destroyed itself should be no surprise. When you do not know who you are, and what is your future goal, your collective fate is a foregone conclusion.
When it came to the panic stage, journalists — who have howled at minimum wage hikes as well as smear unions, public servants, and government grants for corporations — demanded that the government pay their bills.
The “non-profit” status is a knee-slapper because newspapers weren’t making profits for a long time. What they want now is to become beggars with crowns, hoping they will find a sugar mommy like the Atlantic seemed to — but in Canada, there are not too many bored billionaire widows who get roped in. Steve Bannon had one until his ego got the best of him as did his big mouth, and his bored billionaire widow kicked him to the curb.
There are far better ways to get your name up on a building. Universities are one. Hospitals are another. But book publishing in Canada is struggling just as badly, and there aren’t that many takers. Arts in Canada also have their share of difficulties finding patrons, even though they have a more established pipeline.
The profession is hoping to find a wealthy donor who wants to push an agenda, and will pay for the honour. Those donors can just start-up their own vanity projects. They can see Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.com, and get ideas, and be far more glamorous and commercial about it. She gets a return on her investment. The Huffington Post still carries the name of its founder because she didn’t just donate money to a dead outlet — she made her own that was purchased by AOL. It struggled, but she got her point across, and then moved on to other things. Oprah Winfrey got that whole ball rolling, and even if Canada is different than the US, those with deep pockets and shallow egos are not going to play ball when they have the bombast of their southern neighbours for comparison.
The more cerebral ones can see the industry is a waste of time, and there is no point in being associated with a losing team. No one wants the stench of a dead loser getting all over them.
But there is the Walrus — founded by someone with scratch to start his own magazine — and even when he was gone, and the unpaid intern scandal hit — he wasn’t plunking down his own coin collection to get it going — he looked to donations, and that magazine has made no impact on the generation population in terms of news or cultural at all.
The problem is you have a group of people who are used to having their noses up in the air, bragging at their mom and dad’s dinner parties that they are journalistes, the keepers and guardians of democracy. To have to wave a white flag is a horrifying prospect.
So shake down tax-payers, and be ready to be an openly partisan propaganda mill. We already see “sponsor” stories — advertorials — that praise the health care system, for instance, with no hard questions. Just sunny spin.
That is not news. That is advertising, and even that is not going to last in a world where people can get a blog for free and express themselves. They can go on Twitter and have a Reader’s Digest version.
There is no journalism industry in Canada to save. It is not as if we don’t need some system to inform citizens of what’s happening. Journalism failed, and now it is time for a change: to find a better system that does not make the same mistakes as the paupers who screwed up the industry.
The Canadian government is doing no favours to anyone but themselves, hoping to generate positive press for themselves.
The problem is that it is a wasted effort. No one will read it. You cannot give those stories away.
They would have been better off allowing a dead corpse to be buried, and concentrate on running the country.
For people like me, I am doing my best to create, nurture, and raise a healthier and smarter alternative to it.