Newspapers, fake news, and big money

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Currently on social media is a claim that Prime Minister Trudeau and his government “bought off” the media with a big relief package. This sounds like typical anti-government hysteria, and that should tip us off that these claims need closer scrutiny. Rightwing sites have taken Trudeau’s words out of context, or even mis-quoted him completely. Their support of the truckers’ convoy was full of this stuff.

Our first step would be to ask how true these accusations could possibly be? That leads us to examine the accusations in more detail and in their context — not just grab them and run! Most of the funding was announced long before the election was called.

Second test would be to check the history of the site making the accusations. Many sites are well-known for such “false news” and “disinformation”. The site in question, Rebel News, is exactly one of those disinformation fire-hoses. And, given so many info sources, why would we choose one with such a well-known bias?

Third test (assuming the subject is important enough to continue) would be to go up-stream and check with similar sites and other people involved or named in the posting.

This site claims the Liberals distributed millions across the country to buy media support in our last election.

The posting contains a list of these newspapers, including The Pontiac Journal. We certainly made no secret of receiving this journalism-support funding (and can anyone claim The Journal supported the local Liberal candidate?).

The aid was distributed to all Canadian newspapers which applied and fulfilled the criteria. Politics was not a criterion, and papers like the large-circulation Suburban in Montreal received huge support — and this paper is known for its Conservative leanings. The Suburban was unlikely to promote blanket-voting Liberal!

Covid backup was given to many industries and has been credited with keeping many of those businesses going — and preserving their jobs. Community newspapers have always been risky businesses, and these funds certainly kept many from bankruptcy due to the social media-caused loss of advertising.

With newspapers, such funding also directly helped their communities. Many are small towns with limited retail economies to support a local media. This funding kept those information life-lines working for small towns and cities across Canada. The wholesale slaughter of community papers in the USA is a counter-example. Maybe this is what Rebel Media wants! But the grants, subsidies, and loans have kept local media going in small towns, especially. These funds helped The Journal immensely, and it also helped Chapeau, Waltham, Fort Coulonge, Mansfield, Otter Lake, Campbells Bay, Shawville and Clarendon, Norway Bay, Bristol, Quyon, Luskville, Pontiac and surroundings — just for starters. It’s keeping each community’s voice alive.

Isn’t that a good thing?