Many newspapers in Canada have ceased to publish, and thousands of journalists have lost their jobs. In his new book, Ian Gill says that’s a serious concern for a democratic society.

Many newspapers in Canada have ceased to publish, and thousands of journalists have lost their jobs. In his new book, Ian Gill says that’s a serious concern for a democratic society.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flikr RF

Decline of journalism in Canada: Part 1 of 2

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For years, decades in fact, small and medium sized newspapers have been closing their doors while radio and TV stations have also been reducing their journalist staff.

In many cases this is because the operations have been bought by bigger companies who merge journalist staff, resulting in job losses. In other cases, the operations are simply no longer profitable, also resulting in job losses.

But job loss is only part of the issue.

Ian Gill is a longtime journalist, now president of Discourse Media, and author of No News is bad news- Canada’s media collapse and what comes next.

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Journalist, and author Ian Gill.
Journalist, and author Ian Gill. © supplied-Diego Figone

Gill’s company, Discourse Media, bills itself as “an independent media company that produces and enables in-depth journalism projects about complex issues”.

This independence and in-depth journalism he says are two things that are lacking more and more in Canadian journalism.

With consolidation and closures, Gill says, the diversity of coverage of stories and viewpoints of national and international scope is lost. Also lost are many important local stories such as discussions, spending, bylaws etc at the municipal level which affects people on the local level.

A woman walks by the Guelph Mercury office in Guelph, Ont. on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 after almost 150 years. The Ontario city of over 100,000 is  now without it’s own daily paper.
A woman walks by the Guelph Mercury office in Guelph, Ont. on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 which closed after almost 150 years. The Ontario city of over 100,000 is now without it’s own daily paper, another example of the many closures and staff reductions in the shrinking journalistic landscape in Canada. © The Canadian Press/Hannah Yoon)

Journalism has always been considered a pillar of democracy, and in Canada with the decline in journalists and news outlets, that represents a similar decline in society’s access, participation, and knowledge of democracy and its proceedings.

No News Is Bad News- critique of the declining state of Canadian media, by Ian Gill
No News Is Bad News- critique of the declining state of Canadian media, by Ian Gill © Greystone Books

Several papers and magazines, even radio and TV have moved to digital platforms. While he says digital does have some advantages, it tends not to be of the same in-depth long-form coverage that was formerly provided by fully staffed newsrooms.

He also wonders about the depth of understanding one gets from digital platforms versus traditional ones like newspapers, magazines, and even radio and TV.

More conversation comes in part-2.

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One comment on “Decline of journalism in Canada: Part 1 of 2
  1. becky mac says:

    AHH. The weekend paper. The beauty and bulk of it. The bane of every kid delivering it, and the bliss of every week-end subscriber. I have embraced both, and despair at the future loss of both. Journalism is being unfairly targeted by forces my middle class, educated brain cannot even begin to understand.