By Steph Wechsler for the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre
Although Canadians value journalism and believe it is essential to a well-functioning democracy, they don’t want to pay for it, concludes a new study that examined the state of Canadian news media.
A survey conducted as part of the Public Policy Forum (PPF) report, “The Shattered Mirror,” found that the Canadians surveyed do not make a connection between the news industry’s layoffs, closures and other financially-induced problems and what this means for the amount of news available to themselves as readers.
“They assume much like dancers will always dance, painters will always paint, journalists will always cover stories,” said Allan Gregg, principal at the Earnscliffe Strategy Group, which conducted the poll.
“They make no linkage whatsoever to the absence of revenue to news gathering organizations with the inability to pay journalists.”
A 2016 Reuters poll cited in the PPF report showed that only nine per cent of those surveyed in Canada pay for online news.
Gregg was joined by April Lindgren, academic director of the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre and Ed Greenspon, president of the Public Policy Forum, at the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Jan. 28 talk: “The Changing Ways Canadians Get Their News.” The panel discussion followed the release earlier in the day of the forum’s report and its policy recommendations.
The survey of 1,500 Canadians, conducted this past fall between Sept. 22 and Oct. 2, found that 70 per cent of respondents think that news has a major role to play in democracy and 60 per cent think that journalists play a major role.