Canada’s Decline in Press Freedom, Part 2

You need only one customer.

I posted back in August about the Canadian federal government’s subsidies to newspapers. I pointed out that this is a threat to press freedom. But it’s beyond a threat. It’s a per se decline in press freedom.

The essence of freedom of the press is that people are free to write what they want using their own resources or the resources of those who voluntarily fund them. But the federal government forcibly takes money from people and uses it to fund newspapers. So freedom of the press is less than if the federal government refrained from doing this.

I’m not the only one who has noticed. About the same government subsidy program I reported on, Peter Menzies, in an article titled “The Growing Number of Canadian Journalists Who Are Funded by the Feds,” C2C Journal, December 11, 2021, writes:

To me, that changes everything. If that’s a story paid for with my (and your) hard-earned tax dollars, and it’s being fed at government expense across the country into the Toronto Star and heaven knows how many other outlets, whether it’s journalism or activism is now my business, your business and probably Coastal GasLink’s business too.

The story he was referring to was this one in a government-subsidized publication called The Narwhal.

Menzies lays out an obvious effect of government funding:

Tom Korski is co-founder of the subscription-based Blacklock’s Reporter, which focuses on digging out exclusive stories of Parliament Hill/federal government behaviour, frequently using Freedom of Information requests. A fierce critic of government journalism funding, Korski sees the issue as straightforward. Such publications will have even less financial incentive to care about what their readers think because henceforth, the veteran reporter says, “You only need one customer and that’s the [federal] Minister of Heritage.” In short, government funding will make publications less integrated with their local communities.