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The advent of the internet and social media created unprecedented upheaval and change in the news industry. It created a new and broad avenue of competition for traditional news outlets and those that didn’t get online, would soon close forever.

In the lead up to the passing of Bill C-18, now known as the Online News Act, and its enactment last year saw the industry turned on its head once again.

For the better part of the last 15 years, surviving news outlets had been learning to adapt to the new digital age. Before, news outlets could take it for granted that as long as they kept up with their fellow competitors, they would hold on to a stake in the marketplace. Now, in the digital news age, news organizations had to compete for views not just from their fellow journalists, but from everything that made up the breadth and depth of the internet.

By the start of this decade, the journalism industry had gotten pretty good at capturing some of that online audience. In addition to their traditional skills, journalists now had to be experts on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and social media engagement strategies. But with the implementation of Bill C-18, these skills have become mostly irrelevant.

The Online News Act had a good enough idea behind its creation: make social media companies and search engines pay for the traffic that news content generates for their sites. The problem came in its execution.

The social media and search engine spheres of the economy are dominated by monopolies, in the forms of Meta and Google respectively. Meta is the parent company of two of the largest social media networks in the world, Facebook and Instagram. Google has become so ubiquitous that its very name has become a verb synonymous with the act of searching the internet. As a result these companies had a lot of power and a lot of leverage it could bring to bear against the Canadian government and news industry.

Instead of ponying up the cash, however, Meta banned all news content from their platforms, with Google threatening to do the same.

While Google eventually backed down and agreed to pay a far reduced amount to the Canadian government, who in turn distributed that money to leading news organizations, Meta’s ban on news continues.

As noted above, it took many years for some in the news industry to adapt to the internet and social media, but by the early 2020s, those organizations that had adapted had come to rely heavily on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to distribute their content.

And, with Meta’s ban on Canadian news content still in effect, traffic numbers to many news websites have cratered over the past year – not to mention the revenue created by that traffic.

Not only have news organizations that rely on ads seen a reduction in revenue due to low traffic, but organizations that rely on subscriptions or donations are also hampered as they’ve lost access to a large audience to which they could formerly market themselves.

The result is this: news organizations are struggling financially and the public has less access to legitimate journalism.

This is why supporting news outlets that publish important, independent, and hard hitting journalism every week is so important.

We’re hopeful that Canadian news content will soon be visible again across all social media, but in the meantime, if you appreciate the work does, please consider becoming a monthly donor during our fundraising campaign this summer – no amount is too little to make a difference! 

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Nick Seebruch

Nick Seebruch has been the editor of since April 2022. He believes that fearless independent journalism is key for the survival of a healthy democracy. An OCNA award-winning journalist, for...