Canada’s Online News Act must be transparent, fair, and include news innovators

Without amendments, Bill C-18 risks disproportionately benefitting large news organizations and shutting out digital startups and independent media.

A block reading "100+ Canadian news outlets are being shut out of the Online News Act. Support the fight to #FixBillC18." It is surrounded by the logos of participating organizations.

When the Liberal government announced its intention to support Canada’s news industry, the reasons given were to sustain local journalism, support innovation in news, and ensure diversity in the news industry. Bill C-18, the Online News Act currently before Parliament, guarantees none of these things.

Four key changes are needed if Canada is to have the vibrant journalism citizens need for a healthy democracy. 

We are a coalition of independent Canadian news publishers, pushing for amendments to C-18 to ensure the bill lives up to its promise to strengthen Canadian journalism. We represent over 100 outlets serving communities coast to coast to coast and employing over one thousand journalists. Taken together, our readers and listeners number in the many millions. Many of us have risked personal capital, fundraised from our communities, and built newsrooms from scratch to reach underserved audiences, many at the local level. 

Collectively, we represent Canada’s most innovative digital news media, local news outlets, both French and English language media, and BIPOC-led news media — we are the innovative news organizations that are rebuilding the local news ecosystem. The Online News Act represents an opportunity to accelerate this innovation and progress.

We have come together to ask for basic fairness in Bill C-18.

The centrepiece of Bill C-18 is a funding model aimed at mandating large web platforms like Facebook and Google to compensate Canadian news organizations for posting content on their platforms. Unfortunately, as it is currently structured, Bill C-18 does not specifically direct funding towards supporting the critical work of journalists. The bill also lacks robust transparency mechanisms and, most importantly, it risks leaving out small, medium size and independent publishers.

Even before it was tabled, Bill C-18 has resulted in winners and losers in the news industry. There have been a series of secret, backroom deals between Big Tech and the largest newspapers in Canada, along with a handful of small- to medium-sized publishers. An unintended but likely consequence of Bill C-18 as currently structured may be to cement these inequities and this secrecy, which threatens the public’s already-frayed trust in journalism.

To be clear, we support the goal of creating a sustainable news industry. It is not too late for the current legislation to address the needs of the Canadian news media ecosystem. We want it to be amended to ensure the following: 

  • A transparent, fair funding formula

A universal funding formula should be applied consistently to all qualifying news organizations. This funding formula should be disclosed, and the public must know which news organizations are receiving money from tech companies.

  • Support for journalists

Compensation from tech platforms should be based on a percentage of editorial expenditures or the number of journalists that work for an organization, inclusive of freelancers.

  • Inclusion

Bill C-18 may exclude dozens of important news innovators by demanding employee thresholds that news startups often don’t reach until their 3rd or 4th year of operation. 

  • No loopholes

Bill C-18 currently includes vague and poorly-defined criteria allowing for “Exemption Orders” that could let Big Tech off the hook, benefitting a few large news organizations and shutting out hundreds of legitimate small to medium size newsrooms. 

While we recognize the reality of the wider news crisis, our organizations represent rays of hope, and are proving that there is a future for a dynamic, inclusive news ecosystem in Canada.

Bill C-18 is modeled after Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code. It must not repeat the mistakes of that legislation. In Australia, an estimated 90 per cent of negotiated revenues flowed to the three largest media companies.

We encourage the government to revisit and improve Bill C-18.

As small, medium size, and independent news publishers, this new legislation is too big, and too important, to fumble. Bill C-18 will have a massive impact on the future of journalism and news in Canada.

Let’s make sure we get it right.

UNDERSIGNED

Arsenal Media

Canadaland

Canada’s National Observer

Constellation Media Society

Discourse Community Publishing

Indiegraf

Metro Media

Narcity Media

Neomedia

Overstory Media Group

Politics Today

Village Media

Alberta Today

BarrieToday

BayToday

BC Today

BradfordToday

Burnaby Beacon

Calgary Citizen

CambridgeToday

Canada’s National Observer

Capital Daily

ChrisD.ca

CollingwoodToday

ElliotLakeToday

EloraFergusToday

Enbeauce.com

EnergeticCity.ca

francoischarron.com

Fraser Valley Current

Guelph Politico

GuelphToday

Harbinger Media 

IndigiNews

InnisfilToday

insideWaterloo

Journal Metro

La Converse

Mabeauce.com

Macotenord.com

Magaspesie.ca

Metro Ahuntsic-Cartierville

Metro Beauport

Metro Charlesbourg

Metro Cote des Neiges & NDG

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Metro IDS-Verdun

Metro L’Actuel

Metro L’Appel

Metro L’Autre Voix

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Metro Ouest-de-L’ile

Metro Outremont & Mont-Royal

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MidlandToday

Monjoliette.com

Monlatuque.com

Monmatane.com

Montemiscouata.com

Monthetford.com

Monvicto.com

MTL Blog

MuslimLink.ca

Narcity

Neomedia Chambly

Neomedia Joliette

Neomedia Laval

Neo

media Rimouski

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Neomedia Saguenay

Neomedia Sorel-Tracy

Neomedia Trois-Rivières

Neomedia Vallée du Richelieu

Neomedia Valleyfield

Neomedia Vaudreuil

New West Anchor

NewmarketToday

Northern Ontario Business

Nouvelles d’Ici

Oak Bay Local

OakvilleNews.org

OrilliaMatters

Ottawa Sports Pages

Parliament Today

Peterborough Currents

PressProgress

Queen’s Park Today

rabble.ca

Ricochet Media

SooToday

StratfordToday

Sun Peaks Independent News

Taproot Edmonton

The Breach

The Coast

The Discourse Cowichan

The Discourse Nanaimo

The Flatlander

The Green Line

The Home Pitch

The Hoser

The Independent

The Line

The Local

The Peak

The Resolve

The Ridge

The Rover

The Sprawl

The Tyee

The Westshore

The Wren

Tri-Cities Dispatch

Tribe Magazine

Vancouver Tech Journal

Vocal Fry Studios

Women’s eNews

Want to add your outlet to this letter? Fill out this form to express your interest.

Taproot shortlisted for journalism innovation award

Here’s some happy news to share with you — Taproot Edmonton is a finalist for the CJF-Meta Journalism Project (MJP) Digital News Innovation Award!

This is an annual award that recognizes news organizations that "power journalism’s future through digital journalism." It was our coverage of the 2021 municipal election that caught the eye of the jury.

The winner will be announced at the Canadian Journalism Foundation Awards on June 7.

We are shortlisted with the CBC for its Black On the Prairies interactive series, and New Canadian Media for its collective membership model, a capacity-building project with the Canadian Association of Journalists and National NewsMedia Council.

I had the pleasure of leading the tremendous team that pulled this project off, with development by Mack Male and Meenakshi Chaudhary; data analysis by Madeleine Stout; editorial work by Emily Rendell-Watson, Jackson Spring, and Troy Pavlek; session facilitation by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips; and advice from Elise Stolte and Rob Houle.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in this project. The real reward was, of course, the knowledge that we sent thousands of Edmontonians into this election with a better understanding of what the issues were and which candidates aligned best with their values. But it’s nice to get some external validation.

Tech Roundup Review: October 2018

Every Tuesday morning we publish the Tech Roundup, a newsletter full of the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s technology community. In addition to the curated, easy-to-scan lists of news and events, each edition includes one or two featured items which are the updates highlighted below. Sign up here to get the Tech Roundup by email each week.

Here’s our look back at the month of October 2018 as captured by our Tech Roundups.

October 2 – EEDC signs conditional lease for Innovation Hub concept test

We began the month noting that EEDC had signed a conditional lease to test its Innovation Hub concept at the former Enbridge building on 103 Street downtown. "Should the Innovation Hub go ahead, Startup Edmonton would move out of the Mercer Warehouse to be the primary tenant in the space." We also highlighted NAIT’s new entrepreneur-in-residence program for students.

October 9 – Edmonton Startup Week runs October 15-19

This edition featured a preview of Edmonton Startup Week, including a Q&A with Startup Edmonton CEO Tiffany Linke-Boyko. "One of the major goals of this week is to create different opportunities for Edmontonians that don’t know anything about the startup community to experience it," she said. We also highlighted the lineup for Launch Party 9.

October 16 – EEDC leased it, but will they come?

Startup Week kicked off with a big discussion on innovation at City Council’s Executive Committee and a new story from Taproot focused on EEDC’s proposed Innovation Hub and what it could mean for Edmonton’s startup community. We also highlighted the announcement that Edmonton will host the 2019 SingularityU Canada Summit on April 23-24.

October 23 – Edmonton Startup Week: All good things must come to an end

We started this edition with a recap of Startup Week, which saw more than 50 events focused on innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship take place throughout the city. The flagship event, Launch Party, highlighted ten local companies on the rise. The conversation about the proposed innovation hub continued, with a new episode of Speaking Municipally focused on the project and our story about it.

October 30 – City Council presses pause on the Innovation Hub

City Council picked up the innovation discussion and decided to ask EEDC to pause plans for the Innovation Hub. They wanted to see alternatives and ensure more public engagement was conducted. This edition also highlighted the grand opening of TEC Centre Labs, home to the Merck Invention Accelerator and the University of Alberta Health Accelerator. The October 31 edition of the Health Innovation Roundup provided more information on the new accelerators.

Popular Clicks

These were the top 5 most clicked on items from the month:

That’s a wrap on October! Sign up here to get the Tech Roundup by email every Tuesday morning. And in case you missed it, here’s our review of September 2018.

Help us do better beat reporting in Edmonton

Two weeks ago we published our latest story, a look at EEDC’s proposed Innovation Hub. Written by Eliza Barlow and edited by Therese Kehler, the story was well-received and widely read. Last week, City Council voted to request that EEDC pause work on the project, pending further review and engagement.

We first shared news of the Innovation Hub in an edition of the Tech Roundup in August, not long after we began work on the story. It takes time and effort to do the quality of journalism we strive for, and we wanted to make sure it would have an impact when we published it, so we set Edmonton Startup Week as the deadline. We got lucky that innovation was on the agenda at City Council to start the week too! We followed the story up with an episode of Speaking Municipally in which Troy Pavlek and I spoke with Eliza and Therese in more depth about the story and how they did their reporting. I also live-tweeted City Council meetings on October 15 and on October 23 where the Innovation Hub and related reports were discussed. We did a follow-up in Episode 12 of Speaking Municipally, and this week’s edition of the Tech Roundup. We’ve been on the case for a while, and will continue to provide updates through the Tech Roundup and future stories as appropriate.

We didn’t stumble into the story by accident, nor did we get lucky in the timing of its publication. Both were made possible because of the attention we pay to the tech beat here in Edmonton. We launched the Tech Roundup in early June, and already it has become the must-read publication for anyone interested in Edmonton’s technology sector. Every week we curate the latest local tech headlines & happenings, and that focused attention, alongside engagement with our community, allowed us to recognize there was a potential story on the horizon. It also gave us visibility into when Edmonton Startup Week was happening and when the topic of innovation was scheduled to be discussed by City Council.

We think beat reporting, especially local beat reporting, is critical.

Having fewer reporters on beats leads to “shallower stories, and a public with a shallower understanding of important issues and institutions,” Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale told the Ryerson Review of Journalism in 2013. But in the nearly five years since that article was published things have gotten worse, not better. More than 250 Canadian news outlets have closed since 2008, and countless others have slashed the number of reporters they employ. According to the Canadian Media Guild‘s tracking of layoffs and buyouts for the past few decades, “the total is in the order of 12,000 positions lost.”

The reduction in stories being told reflects this, and it’s newsroom beats that have declined the most. According to the Public Policy Forum, the number of newspaper articles produced over the last 10 years has shrunk by almost half. Their report suggests that newsrooms may be “concentrating limited resources on covering civic affairs at the expense of other topics.”

The shrinking coverage of other topics is alarming and we’re working hard to do something about it.

Our work on the Innovation Hub story is illustrative of what we can do, even with limited resources. We’re optimistic about the future and the great local storytelling we’ll produce. But we need your help to do it. To be clear, we’re not a charity, and we’re not looking for a handout. We’re focused on delivering value to you, and we’re asking for you to invest in us so we can do even more great work. We hope you’ll join us.

Use the code INNOVATION before November 30 and save 10% on your first year of membership!

Tech Roundup Review: September 2018

Every Tuesday morning we publish the Tech Roundup, a newsletter full of the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s technology community. In addition to the curated, easy-to-scan lists of news and events, each edition includes one or two featured items which are the updates highlighted below. Sign up here to get the Tech Roundup by email each week.

September was an exciting month for us as we added our first sponsors to the Tech Roundup! Their support enables us to chronicle Edmonton’s tech sector each week. We also launched a new roundup focused on Health Innovation. Here’s our look back at the month of September 2018 as captured by our Tech Roundups.

September 4 – Avenue Edmonton puts the spotlight on AI

The first edition of the month had a big focus on artificial intelligence as we highlighted Avenue Edmonton’s three features. The September 2018 edition of the magazine talked about the context of Edmonton’s position in the world of AI, featured Edmonton.AI as a community initiative to grow the industry, and looked at how robots will change your job,

September 11 – NAIT’s new Productivity & Innovation Centre

NAIT’s newest facility is the $83.4 million Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC). The building houses manufacturing labs, acceleration spaces, and a hub for applied research activity and is described as one of North America’s largest innovation spaces. This edition also featured a bunch of AI-related news, such as Folio’s feature on machine learning and research. People were also talking about an Edmonton Journal article that suggested the improvement in downtown’s office vacancy rate is the result of tech companies.

September 18 – New funding for Computing Science students

The University of Alberta is adding 25 additional students to its computing science after-degree program thanks to new provincial funding as part of the Growth and Diversification Act. We also highlighted a video feature on Frettable, which uses AI to provide transcriptions for instruments and songs.

September 25 – Hendrix.ai launches, Improbable expands to Edmonton

Testfire Labs officially launched its flagship product, Hendrix.ai. The product aims to improve meetings by providing automatically transcribed summaries and action items alongside other insights about users’ meeting history. Also making headlines at the end of the month was the announcement that former BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn will lead the Edmonton office of UK games tech startup Improbable. We also linked to the recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 42.

These were the top 5 most clicked on items from the month:

That’s a wrap on September! Sign up here to get the Tech Roundup by email every Tuesday morning. And in case you missed it, here’s our review of August 2018.

Introducing the Health Innovation Roundup

Today, we’re excited to share our newest roundup with you: the Health Innovation Roundup, sponsored by Health City.

Each week we bring together the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s health innovation sector. You’ll get the latest on the research, technology, companies, and people changing healthcare for the better in Edmonton. Sign up here to get the Health Innovation Roundup delivered to your inbox.

As with our other roundups, the goal of the Health Innovation Roundup is to save you time, keep you informed, and satisfy your curiosity. We sift through all of the information that’s constantly being shared to determine which is important and worthy of your time. Then we add some context to help you make sense of it all.

Why health innovation?

Edmonton is rich with all the ingredients necessary for a thriving health innovation sector. Our city is home to Alberta Health Services (AHS), the largest fully-integrated health system in Canada, a rich source of health-related data. Edmonton is also home to the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), a world-leader in the science of machine learning and artificial intelligence. The opportunity before Edmonton, to combine health data with artificial intelligence algorithms to develop solutions that improve health outcomes, reduce costs, and increase economic activity, is unrivaled.

According to Health City, Edmonton is already home to more than 50% of Alberta’s life sciences companies, and organizations like Startup Edmonton and TEC Edmonton are working to help new entrepreneurs turn their ideas into thriving, scalable companies that can compete on the global stage. With increased attention from political leaders, new investment from both public and private sources, and greater supports for innovators at all stages, activity in Edmonton’s health innovation sector is sure to accelerate.

The Health Innovation Roundup will chronicle Edmonton’s health innovation sector, to amplify the efforts already underway, help attract new interest to the sector, and keep everyone informed about the latest developments.

The Details

We’re thrilled to have Catherine Griwkowsky on board to curate and write the Health Innovation Roundup. She is an Edmonton-based journalist with a decade of experience. Her work has appeared in the Edmonton Sun, Edmonton Journal and StarMetro Edmonton. You’ll benefit each week from her experience and keen interest in health.

We’ll publish the Health Innovation Roundup for Taproot Members and subscribers first, each Wednesday morning, with social media shares to follow later. You’ll also be able to find highlights from each edition on Health City’s website.

Health City

Health City is “a cluster-led economic development organization that leverages Edmonton’s tremendous health assets to create a fast, competitive and lucrative health innovation ecosystem.” They act as a central connection point for the sector, and we’re very grateful for their support in making the Health Innovation Roundup possible. You can read more about their support here.

If you’d like to join Health City in sponsoring the Health Innovation Roundup, we’d love to hear from you!

Read & Feedback

Here is the latest edition of the Health Innovation Roundup. Let us know what you think! Your feedback will help us improve the roundup and make it even more useful. If you have a suggestion for something we should include in a future edition, send it along and we’ll consider it. Here’s how to get in touch with us.

You can read the Health Innovation Roundup for free, because we believe good stories should reach as many people as possible. Taproot Members get it first though, and will have access to the full Health Innovation Roundup archive and other benefits. You can join Taproot as a paying member or a free subscriber here.

Tech Roundup Review: August 2018

Every Tuesday morning we publish the Tech Roundup, a newsletter full of the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s technology community. In addition to the curated, easy-to-scan lists of news and events, each edition includes one or two featured items which are the updates highlighted below. Sign up here to get the Tech Roundup by email each week.

The cooler temperatures are unmistakable: fall is arriving. It won’t be long before the river valley is beautifully yellow, orange, and red! But before we say goodbye to summer, here’s our look back at the month of August 2018 as captured by our Tech Roundups.

August 7 – Making Edmonton a global hub for AI

We began the month with a recap of the second YEG AI Hub workshop that aims to make Edmonton one of the top 5 centres for artificial intelligence (AI) in the world. The goal of the draft business plan is to attract $150 million of investment to accelerate efforts already underway, and to undertake new activities in support of the vision.

August 14 – Artificial Intelligence Improv at the Fringe

With the Fringe festival approaching we highlighted the work Kory Mathewson has been doing on artificial intelligence and improv theatre. He performed in a couple of shows this year, including HumanMachine. We also noted that EEDC selected Derek Hudson as its new CEO. He touched on the importance of the tech sector in an interview with Global Edmonton.

August 21 – EEDC introduces its Innovation Hub concept

We shared the details on EEDC’s proposal for an Innovation Hub downtown. Aiming to grow the “innovation ecosystem” in Edmonton, the new building would act as an entry-point for entrepreneurs and investors. It comes at a cost though: Startup Edmonton would move out of the Mercer Warehouse and into the new building. We also wrote about the new Talent Advisory Council on Technology, setup by the provincial government as part of the implementation of the Growth and Diversification Act.

August 28 – Edmonton joins Startup in Residence program

Edmonton has been selected as the first Canadian partner to join Startup in Residence (STiR), which is “a 16-week program that brings together government agencies and startups to co-create technology solutions for civic challenges.” Startups can register their interest in participating now, with the first challenges to be issued on September 25.

These were the top 5 most clicked on items from the month:

That’s a wrap on August! Sign up here to get the Tech Roundup by email every Tuesday morning. And in case you missed it, here’s our review of July 2018.