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CBC, Twitter and local news

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the federal Conservative Party, asked Twitter to add a ‘government-funded media’ label to the CBC’s Twitter account.

And when Twitter obliged, Poilievre tweeted that the CBC has been "officially exposed" as "Trudeau propaganda, not news."

National Public Radio (NPR) in the states announced earlier this month that it was leaving Twitter after the platform labelled its account as "state-affiliated media". NPR said that adding the description, undermines its credibility by "falsely implying that we are not editorially independent."U.S. public broadcaster PBS followed suit, also leaving Twitter after it received the "government-funded" stamp.

There was some haggling, the CBC stating that it is less than 70% government funded and Elon Musk responded by saying (on Twitter) that he wanted to be accurate, changing CBC's description to 69% government funded media. CBC is still, as of today 'pausing' its account.

This got me thinking, as always, about the future of news and especially of local news.

I think what some folks don't understand, is that we are at a crossroads when it comes to accurate and factual news, especially in small rural and remote cities and towns. And also a crossroads about who will pay for it.

CBC is indeed funded by our sitting government and it has, by far, the most working journalists, getting a decent wage for their work, under one umbrella.

The CBC used to cover small town news but money has been redistributed, as is the case with large newspaper (many have gone at least partly digital) conglomerates, like Postmedia.

LOCAL NEWS IS STRUGGLING. Advertising dollars are drying up. People still listen to the radio but when there's no advertisers, there's no money to pay announcers, let alone reporters. With podcasts, you can listen anytime. Radio pays someone to be live and that money comes from advertising.

And what about newspapers? Legacy newspapers that have been around for eons, now looking for folks to pay for their diminished reporting through a paywall (again without advertising dollars, there is no staff reporters) when folks can go to Twitter, Facebook and even TikTok to get their news for free.

And let's be honest, do folks in rural and remote communities still trust legacy media to represent them? I do know that a large amount of CBC Radio listeners come from smaller towns, just have listen to Cross Country Checkup on Sundays.

There are some small town newspapers and radio stations still making a go of it but it's certainly not making them rich. And there are new independent start-ups in smaller areas, online news organizations and podcasts (like this one) trying to cover topics affecting small town and local areas, that the bigger companies aren't, but they are relying on you, the reader and/or listener. And they are doing it by themselves with no safety net.

If we yank the money from the CBC, where will that money go? Should the government be funding news? If so, who and by whose standards?

Did you know that all commercial radio stations, this hits big companies like Corus, Bell Globemedia etc. the most, must pay into a 'pot' when they make over a certain amount of profit? And that 'pot' actually funds community and campus radio stations? It's called the Community Radio Fund of Canada. Only community and campus radio stations can qualify but have a look at some of the projects funded this year.

Something has got to give, there is a shift coming and I believe rural and remote folks can be squarely in the drivers' seat.

I see so much complaining about the CBC on Facebook posts and folks complaining on Facebook about how they are not represented in rural and remote communities.

Then who DOES represent you? Or a better question is, what voices are missing? What sentiments are not being heard? And who do you want to amplify your voices, tell your stories, if not the CBC? And who will fund it?

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