I don't think the self important Laurentian Elites and their media acolytes realize that a sizable portion of this country, a majority on the Prairies, trust "Big Tech" over the government or the Canadian media.

Quite frankly, many Canadians trust Zuckerberg, Musk and the Google guys over Justin Trudeau, the Liberals, the senior public service and the Canadian media and journalist class.

I don't think I have ever seen a file in my lifetime more split down the middle in support between the Canadian intelligentsia and nomenklatura versus everyone else. Surely the elites of Canada must realize how mediocre they are and that their "big fish in small pond" wishes aren't tenable anymore.

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I'm like you--dogged in my determination--but different. You're both 'way off the mark. This isn't a government/oldmedia/journalism issue: it's an advertising, selling stuff issue. In a nutshell, the current print/pseudo e-paper news distribution doesn't sell stuff nearly as well as electronic media. And it's been so for almost 2 decades.

E-news enables high def colour, seniors' font sizes, very widespread news capturing (viz iPhones) and, for some, interaction. You can "cut" it, "copy" it, "post" it and get it delivered on demand. It is timely, almost to a fault with acccident bystanders videoing instead of helping.

There are massive opportunities available for the entrepreneurial...and the winners won't be journalists. They'll EMPLOY journalists.

What's missing is the "news entrepreneur". The journalistic "Shopify" that transforms tired retailing into simple self-employment.

This C-18 model of news is dead. It's been dead for decades. Accept its passing, get creative and quite whining. Your buggy whip is a goner.

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Fwiw, we've written extensively about the collapse of the media business model.

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Fwiw. Yes you have. But the handwringing should end. You are the best at what you do--that's why I locked in my membership. But it's time for you to change from reflection, nostalgia and begging to creativity, implementation of new (even if unsuccessful) ideas and a spirit of determination.

I've given you some suggestions in the past. Let's see some of yours. But for God's sake, let's move forward. I'd be pleased to help further. Please reconsider billable, interactive news.

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I really don't know what "billable, interactive news" means. JG

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I envisage your newsletters continuing on Substack. I have been suggesting interactive news programs featuring you, featured guests and an online audience (who pay to attend and, in some fashion, participate).

If news is the topic, this would be "billable, interactive news".

Again, you may find this the dumbest idea yet...but you have yet to utilize the more personal, interactive, richer capabilities of the internet. And there is significant revenue in successful adaptation.

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JG Feel free to call if I can clarify further.

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Well written but this line shocked me, "Canadian journalists have an unshakeable faith in our vocation; we genuinely believe that our work is a vital service to democracy."

Where are these journalist reporting from? The CBC offices that don't have to worry about things like, Profit. And even less so on objectivity? Have they looked into their Covid-19, freedom convoy, Chinese election interference... the list goes on and on.

Have these journalist even read any surveys on trust on media; https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/news-polls/surveying-canadians-trust-media Where there has been a widespread decline in media?

But kudos on The Line calling C-18 what it is. A chance for the Liberal government to continue to make Cdn media their mouthpieces.

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Consumers of news lost faith in the product years ago when reporters morphed into journalists. J- schools pumped out journalists like popcorn all eager to give us their take on every situation. Opinion became news. No longer did we just 'get the facts' we were told how to feel.

The industry lost it's way and public trust.

Now in a crisis it has turned to the government for help which furthers the distrust.

I have low expectations that a government as incompetent as the Trudeau government will conclude this

to anyone's satisfaction.

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I mean they will make it so that news is relied on handouts ergo being a captured audience and not to bite the hand that feeds it.

I think the Laurentian elite will be satified.

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C-18 is just a terrible own goal for the government. It won't solve the problem it aims to address and likely will make things work.

The problem is that digital platforms peeled away ad revenue without taking the responsibility to provide journalism. The solution was always to tax Canadian ad revenue from digital platforms at a sufficient level to support Canadian journalism. Getting that right would be challeninging, though the music industry figured this out with the recording media levy. Taxing a percentage of ad revenues -- even a fairly aggressive tax -- probably would have been acceptable to Google/Meta as it would be predictable and the funding would likely grow over time as the ad business grows, providing a steady stream of funding for journalism. I'm at a loss as to why something like this wasn't contemplated.

It's never too late to acknowledge the government has dropped the ball on this legislation. They need to fix this!

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The government can't "fix it!" In fact, most governments are especially inept at doing anything.

The government can fix this by getting the hell out of the marketplace and let the births and deaths happen naturally.

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Jul 2, 2023·edited Jul 3, 2023

In this case 'getting out of the marketplace' will mean allowing large digital platforms to benefit greatly from the Canadian market without any counterbalancing responsibilities.

The media companies they are disrupting had an obligation to provide news. We can argue how well they did that and I would point out that allowing consolidation -- reducing competition -- played a big role in reducing the diversity and quality of news reporting. But Google and Facebook have no such obligation, nor are they designed to. Leaving it to the marketplace right now means leaving it up to those platforms to determine which voices build an audience and which do not. I don't think that's the solution, either.

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Tony, while I appreciate your passion, you are wrong on a number of levels. First, there is little to benefit from "The Canadian Market"...at 100% penetration Canada is smaller than CA.

The notion of "counterbalancing responsibilities" introduces a novel but nonexistent concept...a concept that only exists in federal contracting and lovemaking.

Which ones of the already failed media companies had that obligation you embrace? Do Torstar or Post Media now possess what's left of that fairytale goal? And will their "existential effort" to merge somehow deliver it--or is it just a subsidy grab? Tony, there is no other obligation than to deliver profitability. And they are failing at that too. The Globe subsists on the philanthropy of the good Thomson family. They may well be the last man standing.

Finally, media "audiences" are not "built"...they are the result of individual free choice.

It is sad, I agree. "The media"--as biased, unprofessional and spurious as most currently are-- have served us well. But we are now only losing the shaddow of a once proud profession.

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I think where we might agree is the desirability of a highly competitive media market in Canada, with lots of voices and lots of perspectives.

Agree 100% that the current approach is not delivering that. So, the question to me is -- what could?

My concern is that absence of regulation won't. Digital platforms do make algorithmic choices on what outlets get audiences. That don't almost solely based on audience engagement within the platform but it seems like it doesn't actually result in a diverse and competitive media environment. Making people angry with content that isn't entirely true drives significant engagement but that's not journalism (well, I guess it's "yellow journalism" but I'm not aiming for that!).

And, content creators entire business model at the whim of the algorithm; there are scores of stories about successful content creators who suddenly see a drop in viewers/readers based on some opaque change to their system.

My fear is that no regulation essentially leaves all the decisions on our media environment with Google and Facebook's algorithm, which isn't designed to do anything but make money for the platforms. On the other hand, the current policy proposal is just wildly misinformed and doomed to fail. Neither option seems workable.

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We DO agree on a competitive media market. But my bets go with less/no regulation because no government entity has the knowledge, foresight or intelligence to define worthwhile alternatives. Within reason, unfettered, creative and responsive entrepreneurial opportunities are what's required.

Yes, that makes me a conservative on this issue. Yes, there may be lefty scoundrels who will whine, bitch and complain about oligopolies, monopolies and too high incomes. They'll bemoan lost community news, lost jobs and lost professionalism. But the results of individual initiative have been obvious for hundreds of years and the alternatives found to be economic destroyers.

As I've suggested to our Line hosts, I believe a significant opportunity exists in "interactive journalism" which does not appear available today. It might be a back-and-forth use of something like Zoom to both deliver and educate on serious Canadian issues. We might take the Chinese Influence issue or the Woke issue as examples of a use for this. Bluntly, neither the public nor the government have complementary knowledge of these.

I see this medium as something Jen and Matt could initiate. I'd pay $25 to attend one session of perhaps an hour which involved their explaining to us the "real facts" around such issues and where they had the ability to listen to audience reactions. Were government folks participated in their programs, I think Canada might benefit from an improvement in leadership. But it's the back-and-forth that would truly enrich it.

Tony, this may be the worst idea in the world. But I've only see 2 serious initiatives come from journalism as their Titanic industry goes down: on line bloggers and SubStack. This is, I think, indicative of a lack of independence from most journalists. They have grown up in a protected, 4th estate environment and can see no value in themselves as individuals.

Discussions like ours, Tony, are more valuable than newsletters and web sites. I'd pay to debate with you directly. My thanks to Jen and Matt for allowing our comments to continue.

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Tom, I have to agree with you. You've convinced me, and I am willing and able to put up the money (if not the time) if this new initiative were available.

Obtaining the insights that fill in the gaps for the subscribers (Paul Wells style), along with a Bloomberg machine level in depth analysis (which Terry Glavin works on) but in an interactive fashion is a billion dollar idea. The closest I can think of that is available right now is organizations hiring folks like Peter Zeihan for presentations and chats.

If serious people are willing to pay five figures a year for a Bloomberg machine and hire folks like Zeihan, imagine bringing that down to the masses.

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Tony, I put this invitation "out" to Matt and Jen. Hope I didn't overstep.


"I believe I'd be OK in inviting Jen and Matt to contact "Tony", "Kico" and me to discuss this further. I could provide a bankable business case and some operational goals--like income goals for Jen and Matt. Kico sounds committed and I've no doubt "Paul" would be on side--at least for the discussion"

Matt and Jen...please contact us.

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I’m reluctant to say anything because I love The Line and appreciate the bigger issues at play in this media mess....but you guys have nearly jumped the shark with this last bit of navel gazing. You’re not wrong...but once you’ve had a break please get back to doing the things I’m a paid subscriber to get!!

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As always, G & G, your weekly dispatch was well done.

Yes, we are seeing a very unhappy time in the media industry and it will continue for some time, to be sure. I agree that the ultimate demise of Torstar / Postmedia agglomeration, whenever it occurs and in whatever shape it occurs will result in much chaos, more than has been happening for some years. Again, I agree that this will usher in an interregnum which will last far too long and will result in something of whatever nature at the other side. We will be without our "traditional" media, but that was the case for thousands of years so we will get through that time as well.

Enjoy your time off, both of you.

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I shudder to think what sort of bizarre own-goals the Liberals have yet to score if they continue in some game of tit-for-tat with tech giants. Imagine trying to use the CRTC’s newly-acquired authority to regulate Canadian internet usage to force Google or Facebook to pay for links as a condition of doing business in Canada. The end result would likely be to force a thoroughly mediocre internet onto Canadian users, reminiscent of pre-cable Canadian TV or Canadian retail prior to free trade.

The problem is the Laurentian elites who push this stuff favor a soft Canadian nationalism and don’t usually feel the consequences because they’re either not users of the stuff they take away, or have alternative paths to get it. Years of CanCon should’ve shown their approach isn’t effective at increasing demand for Canadian content. It either succeeds in spite of CanCon (usually by going to the US for success), or yields sheltered workshop mediocrity that goes ignored.

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Surely the elites of Canada must realize how mediocre they are...

With all due respect, have you been living in a news blackout since 2015?

Our elites are incapable of doing the most basic things. Yet that does not prevent the Father of the Nation, the grand fromage of the Laurentian Elite, from musing about how he is going to reset the whole world:

“There’s a lot of lessons that we’ve learned from this pandemic that we’re going to be able to talk about all together and we’ll be open to hearing various proposals on how to make sure that growth is inclusive, that opportunities are there for everyone around the world,”

So to answer your question, Sir, you know they are mediocre, I know they are mediocre as does everyone else outside of their ranks but they themselves labour under the delusion that they are the sine qua non of excellence.

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Happy Canada Day! I Hope both of you enjoy your hard earned vacation time!

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I know you mean more than that, but your last paragraph really sums up my feelings about our government and C-18. They’re not as dumb as they pretend to be.

Happy Canada Day!

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Maurice, you say about the Canadian government, "They're not as dumb as they pretend to be."

I absolutely agree; they are much dumber.

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Ken, most of the time I agree with you, but once in a while I think they can’t really be that dumb. Maybe they are doing this C-18 thing deliberately knowing it will finish off MSM. After all who else is giving them grief? They can handle the opposition.

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Maurice, I respectfully disagree with you, at least as I perceive your argument. It seems to me that you credit this federal government with entirely too much intelligence and guile whereas I think them to be incompetent, inadequate and entirely composed of bloviators [thank you Conrad Black for loaning me your $25 word].

Put differently, to quote others (many), I think that this government couldn't adequately organize a punchup in a brewery.

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Okay, you’ve convinced me. Your “borrowed” description cracked me up and pushed me over. That, and when I think of their mishandling of so many files over even the past couple of years. Thanks.

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There are some high-toxicity comments here - straight-up personal attacks - which is a disappointment to see. G&G, I believe in a comment section in part because I think it's a competitive advantage for you guys, but I also think now is a good time to reinforce that you can't have a forum without moderation any more than you can have a garden without weeding.

It's a fraught process when the comments you're "weeding" are all from paying subscribers (they are, right? If not, they should be), but it has to be done. Just delete the crap, and restrict commenting privileges for those who can't help but be nasty to their fellow human beings.

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The Line claims that Google is in the business of advertising and journalism is not their concern. Ummm, what? This is a company in the cell phone business, smart homes, tablets, AI, hell, they even tried their hand at social media and a gaming console. You truly believe journalism is beyond their grasp? The kicker: Google understands who the best journalists are, those who are at the scene with their cell phones out, recording the news as it happens. Everywhere there are people who speak their political opinions for free and Google can pay them nothing. Google doesn't control the narrative. WE control the narrative. A savvy journalist ought to be scrambling to gain some sort of official status with Google.


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If Google wants to get into the journalism racket, they're more than welcome.

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So if Big Tech wants to create a hole in their pages and search results called 'Canadian news', why not build a search engine dedicated to Canadian news? Big Tech tries to hoover up the entire internet, obviously sources for Canadian news are a much smaller (and shrinking?) and more manageable beast. The GoC could throw in $1B to support it, some Cdn ad revenues could flow through it, the CBC/CRTC mandates could support it. It would need to be agnostic regarding big vs small or ideological dispositions. Time to stop thrashing about in our weepy puddle of tears and deal with reality. Big Tech is creating an opportunity, so grab it!

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The theory here is that the government that spent $54 million on ArriveCan -- an $80,000 app -- is fit to remake Google?

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I did not say "remake Google", quite the opposite. But that may require a difficult agnostic level of literacy. And I did not say a government app. Search engines are everywhere. It's merely the idea of a search engine dedicated to Canadian news sources. That's it. But hey if the folks here at the The Line can't see the value in it, then by all means pleasure yourselves with bitching and weeping!

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So, Robert, I expect that you are a devotee of the CBC and that you believe that the Government of JT and the Sunny Ways Crew are efficient and non-ideological.

That is the only way that I can conceive that anyone would seriously propose that the GOC throw money to setting up a Canadian search engine to take on Google et al.

I can very quickly advise that I would boycott such a biased platform. [Just consider if you put the name of the then current PM into the search box: to WHICH articles would it send you? The favorable ones? The unfavorable ones might not register!]

Call me cynical but, then, I have seen the CBC which is today not whatsoever the CBC which I grew up watching. But then, I don't watch television any more because, well, that whole mainstream media thingy.

And, oh, yeah look at the Line Editor's comment on the very "minor cost" of ArriveCan; do you seriously think $1B would do the job? I can guarantee you that Google spends that much and far, far more each year to keep Google current. As does Microsoft with Bing.

I apologize for my harsh words, but you are being terrifically naive.

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Well if you actually read what I said rather than using it as your personal trigger toy, you'd note I said it is not a matter of duplicating Big Tech who try to hoover the entire internet. Search engines abound. Every little Wordpress site has its own internal search engine, so does every news site, rss feeds are everywhere. It's simply a matter of an integrated site dedicated to Canadian news sources. That's it. A fairly modest technical requirement. And I didn't say the government should run it, just support it, like a thousand other things governments throw money at. Doesn't require much imagination. And hey, I'm not trying to wrestle your little rubber ducky away from you!

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