Steve Ladurantaye comments, Canada should follow Australia, hold tech giants accountable

Veteran Canadian journalist notes when it came to using social media for news, Canada ranked second only to South Korea.
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It’s no secret that the news industry has seen a rough few years.

The rise of the Internet hasn’t been kind to journalism, which has struggled to maintain ad revenue in the age of YouTube, Craigslist, Facebook and Google.

That’s why the legislation passed by Australia in summer 2021 has been viewed as a watershed moment for creating a model that allows news media to get paid for the work they produce. After a pitched battle with Facebook and Google, Australia’s government required the tech giants to pay local media for content.

VETERAN JOURNALIST STEVE LADURANTAYE SAYS CANADA SHOULD HOLD TECH GIANTS ACCOUNTABLE

Now, the Canadian government is weighing options for passing similar legislation, and veteran journalist Steve Ladurantaye says the move is long overdue.

“The reality is that these gigantic companies like Facebook and Google profit immensely from the media content that is shared and read on their platforms,” Ladurantaye said. “These companies already exert huge influence over our lives. It’s not too much to ask that they share the wealth with the news organizations that helped make them successful in the first place.”

In August 2021, Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said political leaders were looking at two options for making digital media giants pay news organizations. The first option appears to mirror Australia’s model, which outlines specific standards for negotiations between the tech giants and local media. The other option was described as an independent media fund.

CANADIAN PARLIAMENT LOOKING AT LEVELING SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYING FIELD

Media leaders are feeling optimistic that one of those options will ultimately receive wide support in Parliament, The Toronto Star reported. Paul Deegan, the new president and CEO of News Media Canada, said the law could have a massively positive impact on his organization.

“We’re looking for legislation with respect to leveling the playing field between the publishers, and the platforms, namely Google and Facebook,” said Deegan, who added that he hopes Canada’s political parties will include the issue in their platforms.

Steve Ladurantaye has worked for both sides of the media divide. He served as head of news and government partnerships at Twitter for two years, but also has broad experience with publications like the CBC and The Globe and Mail.

He pointed out that local media have needed help for years — and there are clear reasons why saving independent publishers is important.

“We know what’s at stake here. We’ve seen the impact that misinformation, often spread on social media, has had on elections and political discourse,” Ladurantaye said. “Social media absolutely has a place in our future, but it shouldn’t replace all of our journalistic institutions, either. That’s why this legislation is so important.”

Across the globe, increasing numbers of people get their news from social media — even if those platforms often aren’t the source of that information.

CANADIANS READ NEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA MORE THAN ALMOST EVERY OTHER COUNTRY

In 2018, the Pew Research Center released a study of the news habits of 38 countries. When it came to using social media for news, Canada ranked second only to South Korea.

South Korea ranked highest at 57 per cent overall and Canada came next at 42 per cent. Interestingly, the report also found that people in undeveloped countries were just as likely to use social media for news as people in developed countries.

“Compared with internet use for news – where the relationship between national economic status and online news use is evident – social media news use is not strongly related to country-level wealth,” the report said.  “People in advanced economies (median of 36%) use social media daily for news at similar rates to those in emerging or developing economies (33%).”

Australia also isn’t the only country to hold the tech giants accountable. France’s competition bureau also ordered Google to reach an agreement with the country’s news agencies and publishers. Just a year later, France fined Google 500 million Euros for avoiding the agreements.

“We’re seeing governments all over the world wake up and finally start holding these companies accountable,” Ladurantaye

“There seems to be a groundswell around the world,” Deegan said, of countries looking at big tech from privacy, competition and other perspectives. “Legislators and regulators around the world are giving a really good hard look at this, and I think it’s important for Canada not to fall behind the curve.”

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