The free ride is over; media outlets need tax dollars

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
February 1, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: February 1, 2017 - 6:06pm

KAMLOOPS — I’m so very tired of listening to the Blame the Media game day after day. How easy it is to lay a guilt trip on mainstream journalists for every problem, big or small, because it relieves us of taking any responsibility ourselves.

Maybe it makes us feel better, too, about wanting our news for nothing. Well, the free ride is over and we’ll have to open our wallets to keep afloat the very media we so love to disparage, if we want to guard our Canadian values, lifestyle and democracy.

Now look, I’ve long been a critic of the industry that has paid my rent, fed and clothed my kids and provided me with a journalistic pulpit for so many years… but enough is enough.

Yes, there are some good reasons journalists rank among politicians, lawyers and telemarketers as being in the least trusted lines of work. In their rush to meet the challenge of the Internet, the media sometimes put speed above accuracy. And once in awhile some reporter will try to scratch his or her way to success by simply making stuff up.

But they certainly don’t represent the principles for which people get into journalism, and of the craft as a whole.

Under the Canadian Association of Journalists’ Code of Ethics, we in the media have a duty “to seek and report the truth… defend free speech…. encourage civic debate… and serve the public interest.”

We don’t always meet those lofty goals but do you really think our communities would be better with no newspapers, TV or radio news? Do you really want our only news authority to be click bait? Yet that’s where we’re heading and all that can stop this runaway train is our tax dollars.

A new Public Policy Forum report proposes $300-$400 million a year from various tax reforms — including re-balancing the HST — to support local news but we the public have to start wanting traditional journalism again. Otherwise we’ll soon be wishing we’d gotten on board when we had the chance.