Saturday, July 1, 2023

Google on C-18

 It's a bill, not a virus. 

The gist of it is that it requires American tech companies to pay Canadian news organizations for content that appears on their platforms. The hope is that the law will help Canadian news agencies. But Google and Meta responded that they're just going to block any Canadian news so they don't have to pay for it. That very much sounds like the bill is having the opposite effect as intended. But the legislators knew of this possibility back in February, andAustralia already went down this path and were successful at negotiating the deals necessary to get compensation to their news agencies. It appears to be a waiting game. 

Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland, who negotiated a flippin' NAFTA deal with Trump, commented on the Google/Meta response to bill C-18,  

"I really believe that the way to get a good deal for Canadian journalism and for Canadians is to be firm, clear, polite and at the end of the day to stand up for national interests"

Many people are wary, including John Ibbotson:

"Such boycotts could harm the news operations the legislation was intended to help. And this purported help has probably come to an industry that, in its current form, cannot be rescued. . . . Today, the physical newsroom [at the Ottawa Citizen] is shuttered. A small remnant of reporters and editors work heroically to put out a paper and sustain a website. . . . It's hard to imagine that any injection of revenues from Google, the federal government or anyone else could restore those papers to their former glory. . . . Many magazines are in dire shape. National Geographic laid off the last of its staff writers this week. . . . 

Quality journalism requires more than a few columnists offering opinions, or a few reporters covering local crime and traffic accidents. It can involve weeks or even months of effort by a team of journalists to uncover and document abuse, corruption, conflict-of-interest or other misdeeds. We cannot and should not ask taxpayers to sustain newspapers as they were in the glory days. It may not even be worth asking them to prop up what's left." 

Some people are advocating boycotting the boycotters by using DuckDuckGo, Bing, or Yahoo. I don't expect enough people will be in the know or care enough to have any effect on these international companies. 

I don't know how much it will help, but consider a subscription to any magazine or paper you hope to save. Check out The Narwhal, The National Observer, iPolitics, The Line, The Walrus, The Tyee, The Local, The Trillium, The Logic, and IndigiNews for starters. Also directly follow reputable journalists on social media to access their work. Good news is absolutely vital to a good democracy. We're on shaky ground these days! 

And happy Canada Day from Google!


Lorne said...

Marie, what I find so alarming is the vehemence with which Canadians are reacting to Bill C-18. Instead of seeing Google and Meta as working to undermine our sovereign decisions, they attack the government for cutting off their access to free news. To me, relying on Facebook and Google for news is like living life in a dimly-lit closet. If we only look at topics that personally interest us, it is likely that we will have a very blinkered view of our country and the world. Reading an actual newspaper forces us to confront a broader array of information and issues.

In this case, ignorance is not bliss.

Marie Snyder said...

I agree, and we've let the newspapers fall to ruin.

Anonymous said...

Just a reminder that this bill was about 15 years in the making and was designed by companies like PostMedia to create an intentional vacuum of information for Canadians. We keep blaming Google and Meta but the real culprits are traditional media companies that don't understand how the internet works. - LY.