CMDC begins a new push to champion local media

A World News Day campaign is step one in the organization's efforts to lead conversations about investing in trusted outlets.

By Justin Crann

The CMDC marked World News Day (Sept. 28) by asking leaders in the Canadian media industry to acknowledge the value of local journalism and pledge to preserve it with the launch of what it is calling the Canadian Media Manifesto.

In the wake of Bill C-10, the CMDC saw a need to advocate for local journalism, which has taken a hit during the crisis. The legislation was meant to amend the Canadian Broadcasting Act and bring global tech companies like Netflix, Google and Facebook  in line with Canadia media organizations with respect to Canadian content requirements, but died when the federal election was called in August.

“Looking at C-10, we wondered how, as leaders, we are uniting as an industry and contributing to our Canadian media ecosystem,” says Shannon Lewis, president of the CMDC. “From the leadership perspective, we’ve all been tested this past year and it’s time for us to rise and unite as an industry. That’s very difficult to do in a virtual world, but I feel this issue is one we could all unite behind.”

Outside of Bill C-10, there has also been pressure to better regulate the likes of Google and Facebook when it comes to sharing more of the revenue they generate from running ads on news content created by Canadian outlets.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the organization says 50 publications have closed across the country and 2,100 journalists have lost their jobs – continuations of a trend that had already been unfolding in the country over the past 15 years.

That’s a problem for Canadians, the CMDC says, because it both removes money from their communities and leaves them with fewer options to turn to – particularly for information about and relevant to those communities.

With the launch of its Manifesto, the CMDC is asking leaders in the media industry – including those at Google and Facebook – to pledge their awareness of the plight of local news and their commitment to championing its importance, in turn “opening up a dialogue” about the crisis that the industry finds itself in.

“That’s why we made this a pledge – it’s about starting up a conversation around the value of trusted news sources,” says Lewis. “We’re not asking to shift dollars from one place to another, we’re just asking leaders to show their commitment to making Canadian media thrive.”

With the help of member agency Cossette, the CMDC has launched a campaign and microsite for the manifesto, which Lewis says is the first step in the organization’s larger strategy to address the plight local Canadian media outlets are currently facing. The next step will be about “educating and inspiring” the Canadian media industry, but first, the CMDC needs to ensure media leaders are committed to the cause.

“This is not just a one-off. The Manifesto is about starting the conversation. The pledge shows commitment – it asks leaders to show up and commit to being aware of the value of Canadian media,” she explains. “Today is really about celebrating World News Day and Canadian journalism and getting people to commit to positive change.”

The campaign is running across digital channels, with a major push behind getting signatories to share the pledge across their own social networks.