Newspapers Matter, Now More Than Ever

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Added: Wed, 10/10/2018 - 12:34pm
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Lynne Lavery
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

October 1, the Pontiac chose to stay with André Fortin, our Liberal MNA.  The new CAQ majority is basically an unknown force.  Time will tell how their campaign promises translate for the Pontiac and the province and how well Mr Fortin can represent us from the opposition bench.
Last week was National Newspaper week, with the Canada-wide slogan “Newspapers Matter, Now More Than Ever.”   At the Campbell’s Bay pre-election debate, every candidate stated they supported local media, with incumbent Fortin hedging that “cheaper alternatives are needed”, praising funding programs to help newspapers do away with newsprint and go digital.
It is astounding that our MNA does not recognize the value and necessity of local media; with poor internet access, an ageing population, and other hindrances to “going digital”, this route clearly shouldn’t be his “only option” for rural areas such as the Pontiac. 
Every newspaper already has an online presence, Mr. Fortin; however, there is little to no revenue generated there. Statistics show print remains the method most readers and local advertisers prefer.  Based on these facts, where is the logic of forcing papers to “go digital”?
And, there’s another issue:  fake news.
A recent study published by News Media Canada reports, “research has found that 63 % of Canadians were unable to distinguish between legitimate news websites and fake news stories, and 65% of Canadians are worried that false information or fake news is being used as a weapon.”  The study concludes, “Access to truthful news is under threat.  For years the credible independent news reporting that newspapers provide has been funded by local and national advertiser support…..now, 70% of Canada’s online ad revenue goes to Facebook and Google…….”
I ask you:  Who has actually seen a Canadian or Quebec government ad on their Facebook feed?  How many folks quickly delete ads that pop up, or have installed ad blockers on Google searches?  Social media employs an algorithmic bubble that decides who gets which information, based on personal preferences. Is this how our governments should be communicating with us?  If newspapers disappear, who can guarantee truthful news coverage of the issues (local, national and international) that affect us the most?
The local CAQ candidate affirmed her support for local media.  It will be important to see what they do about the previous government’s lack of support for community media.  Mr Fortin has to step up to the plate. He lost votes; his message did not get out.  We have to let him know we want solid support for our local media. Will
you tell him you want government notices and information published in your local
newspapers?  Tell him to press that message in Quebec City.