By ERIN HORROCKS-POPE
As a young Canadian journalist and a mother of four, I’ve been contemplating multiple angles of the ramifications of Bill C-18, or the Online News Act, and its potential implications for our democracy. This legislation, designed to ensure fair compensation for news organizations, has sparked discussions about the accessibility and diversity of news, raising concerns for the informed engagement of our community.
I grew up in a home where access to news was highly valued. My parents both spent their lives involved in grassroots community organizations, working closely with not-for- profits, writing and contributing to protest papers, etc. As a child I delivered the Beach Metro newspaper on our street, and today I deliver the paper with my own children. As a journalist and a mother, I recognize the vital role of independent journalism in our communities. It’s a lesson I work hard on teaching my children because wherever you end up getting it, journalism with integrity is a cornerstone of local engagement, fostering discussions on critical issues and empowering us with insights into matters that shape our lives.
The response of tech giants like Meta to this legislative framework, choosing to block Canadian news content over complying with the compensation model… it raises questions about the accessibility of news and the implications for a well-informed society.
Living in Toronto, where issues affecting our daily lives like the housing crisis and the outrageously high (and ever-increasing) cost of living demand our attention, this newly imposed limitation on news access is a cause for concern. Our reliance on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to gather news has been significantly affected. The potential consequences are unsettling – decisions that directly impact our lives might be made without our awareness.
Journalism is the bridge that connects us to our municipal developments, government decisions on all levels, and the challenges we collectively face. By restricting access to our news, these platforms have inadvertently halted our ability to engage with each other effectively as informed citizens.
As a mother, I’m particularly concerned about the long-term implications for our children’s future. The decisions made today shape the world they will inherit. I want my children to grow up in a society where they have real access to diverse perspectives and accurate information to make informed decisions.
Maintaining support for local, independent journalism is essential in addressing this challenge. The Beach Metro newspaper, among others, plays a pivotal role in capturing the nuances of our community, keeping us informed about local initiatives, and sparking conversations that are crucial for progress.
To navigate these changes, I propose that we actively engage with local news outlets. By regularly checking websites like Beach Metro and subscribing to publication’s digital newsletters, we can ensure that the stories that matter to us continue to be accessible. This action is a testament to our commitment to staying informed and engaged as a community.
While it’s been convenient to solely rely on platforms like Facebook and Instagram for our news, we must remember that they are not the sole conduits of information and when they stop sharing our news, it will be up to us to stay informed. Our support for local journalism reinforces the importance of a diverse news ecosystem and empowers us to actively participate in shaping the narrative of our city.
We find ourselves at a crossroads where our ability to engage with news outlets is being blocked, yet more than ever before engagement with those outlets is critical to maintaining the integrity of Canada’s news media landscape. Bill C-18’s impact on news accessibility serves as a reminder of the necessity of independent journalism in our society. By taking steps to support local news outlets specifically, we can collectively ensure that our voices are heard, our concerns are addressed, and our city continues to progress with the well-being of our future generations in mind.
More about the Bill C-18 can be found here.
— Erin Horrocks-Pope is the digital and social media manager at Beach Metro Community News.