Canadians need information to make important decisions. Democracy depends on people knowing what they are voting for or protesting against. There are many newsrooms in Canada facing job cuts and fewer journalists reporting the news. According to Torstar chair John Honderich, this means democracy is at risk due to the lack of information reaching Canadians. South of the border, both newsroom cuts and an abundance of misinformation spread over social media played a part in the election of Donald Trump. People need to get their news from sites that are fact checked by trained journalists. This is the key to democracy.
The key to good news writing is getting to the heart of the issues, being fair, balanced and accurate. Journalists need to dig deep in order to find out the facts. Fewer journalists in the newsroom means there isn’t enough investigative journalism being done. If there are fewer journalists, newsrooms might not get the information to the people who are directly affected. Political and community news suffer as a result of downsized newsrooms. With fewer reporters, there are not enough feet on the ground to cover everything and get multiple perspectives. In a recent article published on the Toronto Star website, Honderich says fewer journalists in the newsroom means not enough investigative journalism is being done.
Newsrooms rely on reporters to provide a wide variety of stories and features, but as more newspapers build content online, print subscribers are forced to adjust to news both online and in mobile form. This might be natural for a generation raised on technology, but for the readers who like to hold and flip through the news over the breakfast table, this is an adjustment.
The more people cross over to digital, the more papers lose revenue because the news revenue model has been based on print advertising. Those advertising dollars have moved to online platforms like Facebook, sucking revenue from newspapers. This has led news organizations to close down. Maclean’s has changed from a weekly publication to monthly. According to the Huffington Post, more than 40 staff members have been laid off due to the decline in print advertising. This results in more journalists losing jobs and less coverage on the ground. During the U.S election there were many posts made on Facebook that included misinformation or were fake news in general. People see these posts and ‘like’ or ‘share’ and the fake news is spread to more people without filters.
News outlets are constantly updating their online and mobile platforms, leading print newspapers to become obsolete over time. Newspapers need to accept the changing world of fast-paced news. By the time papers are printed and distributed, the stories are no longer considered ‘fresh’ news. Advertisement is being invested online where there is more traffic. Print is now struggling to keep afloat with what little ad and subscription revenue they have. This would not be a big issue if the industry could come up with new revenue models to compensate for the loss, but they have not yet.
Citizens need real news after it has been fact checked and verified for its validity. People can’t always believe what they see on the Internet and this is the case for news. Democracy depends on people finding reliable, fair, balanced, accurate information and basing their decisions on those facts.