C-18 and its fallout is another blow to journalism – but The Phoenix will be OK

“Your content was shared but cannot be viewed in Canada.” That’s the pop-up I get now, every time I post, comment or share on The Peachland Phoenix’s Facebook page.

You’ve seen a similar notification – it started August 1. Why? It’s Meta’s response to Bill C-18, Canada’s recently-passed Online News Act. While the federal government sees it as a way to compel Facebook / Instagram and Google to compensate Canadian news outlets – what it’s accomplished so far is a swift move on Meta’s part to ban Canadian news. Google is poised to follow suit. This means soon, within Canada you won’t see links from Canadian news, nor will you be able to search for said news on the Google platform. This of course, includes The Peachland Phoenix.

Meta says this legislation is based on an “incorrect premise” that they benefit unfairly from news content shared on their platforms. In a June 22 statement, they say the reverse is true.

“News outlets voluntarily share content on Facebook and Instagram to expand their audiences and help their bottom line. In contrast, we know the people using our platforms don’t come to us for news.”

The federal government on the other hand, maintains news publishers have lost their advertising revenue to the tech giants, which translates into reporter layoffs and the general state of decline the journalism industry has experienced over the past 20 years. They want the big tech platforms to negotiate deals with major news outlets for posting their work.

Here’s the problem: Those media companies the federal government is trying to protect? They’re all owned by big corporations, with demonstrably, little regard for preserving journalism. This Online News Act includes nothing to support innovation in our industry, nor does it mention a way to fund or protect independent news startups. You know, the small guys, like me.

It should also be noted Meta already had ongoing (voluntary) deals with major Canadian news outlets regarding use of content on the platform. Now that the Online News Act has passed, those deals have now been cancelled. And according to this Globe and Mail article, Google indicated during negotiations, they’d rather contribute to a fund that supports the news industry, “rather than mandated payments for links with uncapped liability.”

Our industry has made a critical mistake by allowing a third-party – Facebook, Google, and the like – to be the conduit to reach our readers. It’s why, when I started The Phoenix, I soon realized my email list is much more valuable – it belongs to me, while the likers and followers of my Facebook and Instagram pages (most of whom are not paying customers), belong to Meta.

Social media has been great for attracting attention, and I do appreciate the likes, comments and follows. But because I am publisher, reporter, advertising rep, tech support and customer service – I’d rather spend my time on things I can directly cultivate and control. Making reels and sharing into local Facebook groups hasn’t been my priority because I’d rather work on my website and email list. And besides, according to a survey I did earlier this year, most of my new customers subscribe because of word of mouth. They’re hearing good things, and they want to be part of it.

So. How can you get around this C18 nonsense?

Sign up for my email newsletter! It’s free, and it comes once a week (times may vary during summer 😉 Just head over to my website – www.thepeachlandphoenix.com – and you’ll see a pop-up. Fill it in, and you’re added to the list! Lots of community news you won’t see anywhere else – and those on my email list are first to know what happens after council meetings – because I stay up late and write everything that night!

Want to read the stories? Please subscribe! Know that when you do, you’re directly supporting independent, credible journalism written just for Peachlanders, by a fellow Peachlander. With newspapers leaving, and big media companies pulling reporters out of smaller areas for more regional coverage, all that small-town stuff can be lost: The nuances and history of our District council (I’ve been covering them for five years now), the community events, and all those little things that wouldn’t otherwise get media attention – that’s what I do! So, if you want to be informed – and you’re willing to take the time to read – The Phoenix is for you! Just $6 a month, and your first month is free.

My website can always be found when www.thepeachlandphoenix.com is saved in your web browser’s bookmarks.

And you can also donate directly to sustaining local, independent news here in Peachland.

One thing I’m really thankful for in all this? After three and a half years, I have some amazingly solid support. People who understand why community news is important. People who are involved in making Peachland better. People who want to support a fellow Peachlander, and a unique small business. Yes, the system’s not perfect. But they know I work my butt off trying to make this thing fly. And with continued support from Peachland, it will. I mean, it’s called The Peachland Phoenix for a reason….

August 3, 2023

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