Here’s something scary just in time for Halloween. Having one company holding the majority of our media like an overflowing bag of candy they can’t wait to eat up. The quality of journalism is already dying. Now I fear the zombie news apocalypse is upon us! I’m speaking tongue-in-rotting-cheek, but the feeling of horror is real.
Postmedia Takeover Could Lead to Post-Mortem on Quality Journalism
Quebecor is ready to hand over 175 English-language newspapers to Postmedia for $316 million. As far as big business is concerned, this can be seen as a win-win for both companies. The losers in all this will be some 35 million Canadians. We will be losing out on quality and diversity in our news as a country. No matter what the company promises, good business practices will naturally (or unnaturally depending how you look at it) lead to the demise of quality journalism.
The Sun Would Shine Across the Country for Postmedia
Some would say look on the bright side, the sun would shine for Postmedia in a national frenzy. With this sale, Postmedia would own the Vancouver Sun, the Edmonton Sun, the Calgary Sun, the Winnipeg Sun, the Ottawa Sun and the Toronto Sun. It would also take hold of the 24 Hours dailies in Vancouver and Toronto. But that’s not all, Postmedia would be the owner of the websites for all these newspapers.
Postmedia to Control Nearly All the English-language Canadian Papers
Here’s an excerpt from CBC reporter Pete Evans’ online story on October 6th, 2014, “If it goes through as announced, the deal would mean Postmedia, which was built out of the ashes of the former CanWest media empire, would control just about every major English-language newspaper in Canada that isn’t based in Toronto (the publishing home of the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail).”
Good Business Model Spells the Ruin of Quality News
This is scary because it would be so easy for Postmedia to just have the same news stories in all these newspapers all coming from a central hub. Throw in a few local stories and then you’re done. You wouldn’t need nearly as much staff – think of the cutbacks, think of the savings! Taking these steps would seem perfectly rational and be extremely profitable from a business point of view.
Dreams of a News Utopia
Idealist that I am, I would like news to be truly about keeping people informed about what is happening in the world. I like that olden day image of detective-like journalists snooping about and being critical to uncover the truth of serious and meaningful issues. Things like investigative journalism are falling to the wayside for much cheaper choices like rewriting email news releases sent out by the government.
To have good quality news costs a lot of time and money and this goes against a business model which is to spend as little as possible on the product and sell it for the same price or higher. Sigh. Zombie News Apocalypse. The road to hell is paved with good business intentions.
We Want Many Voices, Not Just One
Normally we think of third world countries when we think of the lion’s share of the media being held in the hands of one controlling interest. If this deal goes through, we will be getting all our news filtered through the same sieve, the words written from the same hand, spoken from the same mouth all across Canada. The same advertisements will be pumped cross country online and in the papers. If all the papers are saying the same thing, how can it not be true? What a great way to control how people see and think about the world then having only one source for news.
Check Out Alternative News and Blogs
If you haven’t already, you may want to start investing your time into checking out smaller independent newspapers and blogs. Look for variety and indepth research in new stories. Root out media that makes sure different perspectives are represented in news coverage. Look micro-locally and look globally to find news sources that can offer you quality information.
Scary news times are already upon us. It’s never too late to start preparing for the Zombie News Apocalypse.