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April 21, 2022 8:09 am  #1

Will Forcing Web Giants To Pay For News Links Lead To Censorship?

I hate getting political here because it can quickly spiral out of control. But some things are worth the risk and this could easily apply to any of the major parties.

It started when I came across this article from media law expert Michael Geist, who cites several examples of recent "self-censorship" by a number of Toronto newspapers, which refused to publish anything critical of the government because it might hurt their lobbying efforts surrounding payments from web giants. 

"In 2021, I pitched an opinion piece on then Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to one of Canada’s leading media outlets. The opinions editor liked the idea and worked with me over several drafts to finalize the piece. I was told it was ready for publication and then I waited. And waited. And was then told the piece was spiked by upper management given the subject matter and the campaign for legislative support from Canadian Heritage."

If it's true - and he claims it comes from all sides of the spectrum from the Toronto Star to the Sun - then it's extremely disturbing. Hard to trust a media outlet supposedly open to all points of view when it only prints one side (or worse, refuses to print anything at all) in a self-protection move. We already have some worries about the funding the government is providing to newspapers and even if it doesn't affect their editorial positions one iota, there's always the public perception that it might. That's the danger of taking the money in the first place.

I hope the instances noted in the linked article are isolated. But it shows the danger of mixing politics and the press. And it's all of us who lose. 

Anyway, have a quick look and see what you think. But one thing's for sure - you won't be reading this story in any of the Toronto dailies. 

Spiking Op-Eds: How the Government’s Online News Act is Already Leading to Media Self-Censorship