“What role can government play to support credible sources and counter the fake news phenomenon?”, Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, tweeted on January 23, 2017.
In an interview with La Presse, Jolie revealed her plan to launch a dialogue with Facebook and Google over their responsibility as vehicles to spread information worldwide. “It is time to show a governmental leadership in order to present the perspective of the people of a democratic state,” said (originally in French) Minister Joly who recently participated in a panel in Davos, Switzerland, on fake news.
Quartz reported that following the discussions in Davos, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is set to continue the conversations through its Global Future Council on Human Rights to examine how large internet companies deal with privacy and free speech and explore ways to limit the spread of misinformation, political propaganda, and extremist content online.
“The Shattered Mirror”, a study released on January 26, 2017 by the Public Policy Forum, suggests that the news industry in Canada is reaching a crisis point in light of the decline of traditional media, fragmentation of audiences and the rise of fake news which are described as “a growing threat to the health of our democracy.”
The study “ investigates the major shifts and disruptors in news and journalism – the broken business model, under-development of digital-only news providers and consolidation of digital distribution revenues by Google and Facebook.”
It includes recommended measures to strengthen the economic sustainability of news media and to promote civicfunction journalism and digital. The following are the 12 recommendations of the study:
Enhance Section 19 and 19.1 of the Income Tax Act to support civic-function journalism in Canada, whether by incentivizing Canada-centred news organizations to do more reporting or, for those that don’t, creating a revenue stream to support a Future of Journalism & Democracy Fund.
Extend GST/HST to all digital news subscriptionand advertising revenue for companies not qualifying under new Section 19 criteria. Rebate GST/HST for those that do qualify.
Remove obstacles to philanthropic financing.
Review the Copyright Act’s fairdealing rules to strengthen rights of news originators to control their intellectual property.
Create a Future of Journalism & Democracy Fund.
A legal advisory service for investigative/accountability journalism.
Establish a local mandate for The Canadian Press.
Establish an Indigenous journalism initiative in keeping with a new era of reconciliation, self-government and nation-to-nation relations.
Establish a research institute dedicated to the study of news and democracy.
Bolster the ‘inform’ imperative in the CBC mandate to “enhance the base layer of reliable news to inform Canada’s citizenry.”
Financing for CBC online by “free[ing] cbc.ca of the need to “attract eyeballs” for digital advertising, which can run contrary to its civic-function mission and draw it into a “clickbait” mentality.”
Encourage a digital-age approach to public broadcasting.