Tuesday , 30 May 2023
Home Business Torstar Publisher issues call to action to combat the crisis in local news

Torstar Publisher issues call to action to combat the crisis in local news

Torstar Publisher Jordan Bitove used a Canadian Club luncheon as a platform to make a pitch for greater corporate and government spending on local news outlets. He told the audience, “today, over 80 per cent of digital ad dollars go to tech companies due to the monopolies they have over audiences – money that’s not only leaving our country, but also has implications for Canadian media, specifically in our newsrooms. And that’s the challenge. The advertising revenue that once funded our newsrooms has been moved – ironically to companies that use our content for their benefit. Oh, and did I mention,   those companies don’t want to pay us for it.”

Referring to local news from legacy outlets like the Star, he coined the phrase “trusted environments” saying, “we can give advertisers the intangible benefit of resonance within trusted environments – and the brand halo that comes from being aligned with local news.”

He talked about how major advertisers have deserted local news outlets, “I won’t name names but as an example, one of Canada’s leading institutions – whose values are 100% aligned with our company – spent $50 million in advertising last year. The Star’s share? Less than seven thousand – or 0.013%. And this isn’t an isolated example. There are dozens of big companies and hundreds of smaller businesses that just don’t invest in Canadian media. At all.  I am not being dramatic here – this is a fact.”

And despite efforts by the federal government to get the social media giants to support Canadian news outlets, Bitove noted the Federal Government isn’t putting its money where its mouth is. “In their last report, they claimed an advertising spend of just over 140 million dollars – to reach Canadians on topics like COVID, reconciliation, equality, climate change, affordability, health care, and many other important issues,” he said. “ Factoring in digital AND print for the Star, our 6 other dailies and 70 community news platforms, the government of Canada invested 0.27%, less than $400,000 on a $140-million budget. You can’t tell me that voters and citizens aren’t reading our content. I know they are. I see the page views every day.”

He urged the largely business audience to, “go back to your office and find out what percentage of your media spend goes to supporting Canadian-owned and operated media. If it’s not 20%, it’s not enough.”

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