Editorial: Why does the government hate Canadian technology publishing?

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As Chief Content Officer, I have refrained from editorial. I have my own blog for personal opinion. The rule in our publications has always been, “How does knowing this really enrich our readers?”

But recent actions by the Canadian government to “help” Canadian publishers have changed my view, as I asked myself the question, “Why does the government hate publishers, especially tech publishers?”

C-18, a bill supposedly meant to protect Canadian publishers, may actually be a disaster for many small Canadian publishers. The legislation has been criticized by several prominent industry experts, including Michael Geist, who said in a recent post, “The government’s handling of the Bill C-18 proposal is utterly shameful.”

We have long been aware of the fact that the government cannot or will not effectively protect Canadian publishers. For example, if we were any other industry, we would be protected by “anti-dumping” laws. For years, American publishers have been able to “maple-wash” their American content by adding some Canadian stories and then publishing it in our market, at a cost to those of us who had to pay salaries and local stories. The entire range had to be covered. , can never compete with. In the digital era, the government has proved completely incapable of taking any meaningful step.

To be precise, there was a program many years ago to help publishers go digital, but you had to invest more money than many companies, and our firm waited years to recover the investment funds. We worked hard, but we were lucky to survive that transition. Many other publishers simply went under.

Strange, when there are other “cultural” industries like music, or film, or TV, somehow the government has managed to generate some well-deserved protection. There are Canadian content regulations for music, film and television.

But publishing? When we get hit – that’s cricket.

By the way, we’re not making this a “them or us” argument. Canadian culture in all its various incarnations needs support. In fact, the music industry and others are probably in need of some more support, as streaming threatens the livelihoods of Canadian musicians and, while some savvy artists like The Weeknd may be successful, the loss of streaming income could be passed down to generations. There is a danger of killing the stars. It was our Canadian content restrictions that allowed the emergence of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot and many others.

So how do publishers, especially smaller niche publications, survive? The founders of our company were smart enough to understand that the Canadian government would not be of much help. They set up a joint venture to protect us, which lasted for decades and created huge publishing jobs in Canada.

Unfortunately, our American partners figured out that the Canadian government didn’t care, and walked out on that agreement, hoping they could “maple-wash” their current stuff, knowing that we were too young to defend themselves from prosecution and knew that the government would not help a small publisher.

Which makes the new Bill C-18 such an additional attack on this industry. Clearly, it sets out to protect publications from the use of content by Google or Facebook without compensation. Some think this is a good idea. Others think it will cause these giants to punish Canadian publishers by taking our sites out of search results. This is difficult for many of us in specialized areas, where more than half of our traffic comes from search.

And what has the government given in return? For us – and for many other publishers like us – nothing. They forced us to take risks and offered nothing in return.

Nothing? Yes, nothing.

We are excluded from any benefits of C-18. Here is the clause that has been inserted in the bill.

27 (1) At the request of a news business, the Commission shall, by order, specify the business as eligible if it


(b) […]

(iii) prepares news material which is No Mainly industry-specific news, focused on a particular topic such as sports, entertainment, arts, lifestyle or entertainment.

It all hinges on that one word – “No.”

so simple. It is fatal for us and for many others.

What this says is, unless you produce a whole series of news stories, you are excluded. No other industry, cultural or otherwise, would be subject to this restriction. When the Canadian content restrictions were put in place, no one said you had to do folk, rock, classical and polka favorites in the same song or you didn’t qualify. Similarly, no one said that films should have drama, comedy, musical numbers and mime all in one film.

Why not? Because it would be ridiculous to do so.

Yet the government says, “If you focus on one area of ​​news, you are not a publisher.”

What does it really mean? Only the biggest publishers would benefit. Those who cover the normal range will get full money. Those who are younger and try to stand out by adopting a different strategy will fall by the wayside.

All of these publications serving a specific Canadian audience will be penalized. They all depend on search traffic – traffic they get now because they are specialized, and are seen as authorities. But the government is ready to put their livelihood at stake and does not give anything in return.

Simply put: The government wants us to take risks with our new strategy, but gives us nothing in return. All the pain no benefit.

We are a technology publisher, but this also applies to sports, fashion, culture – any publication that has done what any great business strategist would say is the way to survive – differentiate yourself with a niche audience .

So the question remains. Are our federal representatives ignorant? Does he think that so many small publications in this country are just an annoyance?

Or are we just another type of small business that the government and opposition parties pay lip service to in elections and then ignore while governing?

We’ve been riding in our MP where we’ve provided Canadian publishing jobs and where we’ve helped create jobs for Canadian journalists, writers, creative workers and more for more than 40 years. We were met by a very polite young man who took our call and then – silence.

We will not go without a fight. We have stayed relevant and alive in Canada through hard work and creativity. We know we bring value. Study after study shows that Canadians want to read Canadian stories about technology.

But if we’re gone, and you find a Canadian story about a large established business in a US newspaper, ask yourself this – who will be telling the stories of the rest of the Canadian technology businesses and entrepreneurs?

Which brings us back to the question asked at the beginning of this article. But maybe it’s a little bigger than just technology. Perhaps the question is, “Why does the Canadian government hate the small businesses that are so important to Canada’s publishing industry?”

If they don’t, and we’re overreacting or being unreasonable, here’s how the government can prove us wrong:

  1. If you’re going to go head-to-head with Google and “poke the bear”, have a safety net for those of us who might be affected in this way. Your own MPs have said that the experiment of detaining Canadians also had a big impact.
  2. Understand that when large luminaries are inhaled, small luminaries get pneumonia. We’re always close to the edge and try to keep the doors open. We don’t have huge assets, or access to a large credit line. We cannot wait for months and even years for action to take place.
  3. Get rid of the idea that all publishers do general news. This, for many of us, would be a foolhardy strategy. We are often niche, focusing on core audiences or interest areas. But we are no less relevant than any other news source.
  4. And when you think about Canadian culture but ignore us, please answer one question. Who will tell the stories of Canada when we are gone?

If you are concerned about these issues, or any other aspect of this bill – write or call your MP. You can find their contact information Here, Don’t let Canadian publishing die.

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