Here's how Ottawa can help local news: CAJ

OTTAWAJune 16, 2017 /CNW/ — The Canadian Association of Journalists supports several recommendations in a parliamentary committee's report on the future of local news that proactively—but non-intrusively—encourage high-quality journalism in Canada.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage's latest report, Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada'sMedia Landscape, made 20 recommendations to strengthen local news across Canada. The CAJ appreciates the committee's attempt to consult widely as it studied an issue critical to the public interest—a process that included CAJ testimony.

Several of the committee's recommendations responded to the priorities of like-minded journalism organizations that highlighted the revenue problem plaguing local news, including the Canadian Newspaper Association and others. The CAJ supports recommendations to:

  • Amend sections 19, 19.01 and 19.1 of the Income Tax Act to allow deduction of digital advertising on Canadian-owned platforms;

  • Introduce a tax credit to compensate print media companies for a portion of their capital and labour investments in digital media; and

  • Ensure that foreign news aggregators are subject to the same tax obligations as Canadian providers

"As advertising dollars slipped away, gobbled up by digital giants like Facebook and Google, journalists have watched their newsrooms shrink," said CAJ President Nick Taylor-Vaisey. "These measures could help local newsrooms reclaim some of that lost revenue."

One of the CAJ's stated priorities comprised one of the lesser reported recommendations of Disruption, which called on the federal government to make it easier for non-profit journalism outlets to flourish in Canada by making those organizations eligible for charity status.

"The recommendation on charity status reflects a long-simmering discussion in Canada about alternative funding models for journalism," said Taylor-Vaisey. "We know there's all kinds of potential for not-for-profits to produce public-interest journalism that matters."

The CAJ also supports the committee's recommendation on encouraging Indigenous journalism, which echoes a recommendation of the Public Policy Forum's Shattered Mirror report. "Canadian newsrooms desperately need Indigenous voices to tell stories that matter, and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is well-suited to lead any effort to that end," said Taylor-Vaisey.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 500 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

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