Today's discussion:

The news industry’s biggest problem isn’t financing—it is trust

Much has been made about the news industry's shrinking revenues in the digital age. But the chief problem with news isn't financing—it is trust. A key source of the trust deficit can be found in the Faustian choices that it has made in the social media environment.

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Hugh Nicholson

While it might be convenient to blame the lack of trust in Canadian media on social media, the reality is otherwise.
Canadians lack of trust in the mainstream media has been earned by those same media outlets.
From accepting government cash and tax benefits, skewing their news coverage to favour the Trudeau Liberals, acting as the PR wing for the latest government policy edict, following the left wing progressive agenda on Covid, climate change, immigration etc, the media have destroyed their own reputations for fairness, accuracy and objectivity. Social media just amplified what was already happening.

29th November 2023 at 9:21 am
Michael F

If caring for the elderly, frail and weak during Covid was part of a ‘left wing progressive agenda’ please inform us what the alternative was. Jesus.

29th November 2023 at 9:44 am
Daniel J Vale

The elderly ( particularly those in LTC facilities ) were grossly neglected, mostly because of misallocation of resources; many called for an “iron ring” to enclose the elderly in a barrier of safety, but those voices went unheard.

29th November 2023 at 5:45 pm

The CBC is like 24 Sussex. Sometimes you need to demolish something completely and build anew from scratch.

29th November 2023 at 9:23 am

When people say, with a straight face, that media like the CBC is not a problem with respect to disinformation, I roll my eyes. CBC and the mainstream media are doomed until they recognize the fact they, in fact, are the cesspool of disinformation they claim others to be.

29th November 2023 at 8:31 am

Criticism is warranted but ‘disinformation’ has a specific meaning and does not apply.

29th November 2023 at 9:33 am
Kim Morton

Every election cycle is what CBC specializes in. Every election cycle we can be guaranteed CBC will claim the conservatives will ban abortion. which is a lie.

29th November 2023 at 11:15 am

Criticism is warranted but ‘disinformation’ has a specific meaning and does not apply.

29th November 2023 at 11:59 am
Aileen Dolan

Decoupling from Social Media won’t change the distrust people have for the CBC. The CBC is very left-leaning and totally biased. They are Trudeau’s media, I’ve given up on them.

29th November 2023 at 10:30 am

When the Canadian news became welfare recipients from our gov refused anything said against them they also broke there own code of ethics , now Canadian news is a joke and should be charged with crimes against humanity or treason ? My opinion !

29th November 2023 at 7:42 am
Daniel J Vale

Your article failed to address what I consider to be the most problematic issue for the legacy media – institutional bias.

29th November 2023 at 7:15 am
Shirley Blair

I take issue with “ tough code of journalistic ethics like those in place for the CBC, the Globe and Mail, and CTV”. I can’t comment on CTV. However a daily read of the G&M is an exercise in patience for the obvious bias of nearly all of the journalists who make it their mission to denigrate Poilievre and any hope of deliverance from the current government. This includes Andrew Coyne, a panelist on the CBC National’s At Issue. Besides Mr. Coyne, this panel features two Toronto Star journalists with a palpable dislike for Poilievre, his predecessors and for that matter the CPC. There is no conservative voice on that panel or any others I’m aware of at the CBC. In fact the CBC behaves and reports as an arm of the Liberal party parroting Liberal talking points on gender issues, climate change, racism and the news of the day. CBC glosses over Trudeau’s scandals and other problems and bends over backwards to cover for him. These not a tough journalistic standards!

29th November 2023 at 12:06 pm
Michael Peterson

I hope Mr. Stursberg his time to read the latest disclosures by Matt Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, and Alexandra Gutentag about the the Censorship-Industrial Complex and the steps being taken over the past few years by arms of the US and UK government to fund and organize “anti-disinformation ” measures. These are to be deployed against their own citizens who don’t agree with “the narrative” and are so impertinent as to say so on Facebook or Twitter. If Mr. Stursberg cannot get his CBC to report both sides of a story, I don’t hold out much hope for his new unbiased and fact-checked platform. I totally agree with Hugh Nicholson that the media have destroyed their own reputations and are continuing to do so, now with even more of our money.

29th November 2023 at 10:22 am
Alice Barr

This was a good article. I dont use social media, and don’t think I am missing anything. Journalists need to get back to the 5 W’s. A news story needs to relay the facts a nd not sensationalize. It should not contain emotion. An opinion piece should be clearly labeled as such. The two should not mix in one article. Headline writers need to read the story and not over hype. I have read stories in main stream media where the headline has little to do with the story. It was just to grab my attention.
I would like to see a code of journalism and list of approved media outlets develop but I do have concerns over who would approve such outlets. We already have had issues with this. Institutional bias exists for both political extremes.

29th November 2023 at 8:24 am
Cyril Gibb

Wow. A former CBC executive suggests that news organisations that “that subscribed to a tough code of journalistic ethics like those in place for the CBC….”, “This would ensure that content appearing on the platform would be—to the extent humanly possible—true, accurate, and fair”.
It’s scary that a media insider can be so tone-deaf about criticisms of the media.
At least it’s consistent, with Catherine Tait continuing his delusions regarding CBC objectivity.

29th November 2023 at 11:53 am

Many reasons that trust in ‘news’ is shrinking:
– People in power (ultra wealthy) benefit from news not being trusted i.e. keeps regular folks guessing and confused.
– Non-democratic foreign governments actively undermine the news i.e. Russia, China et al.
– Profit motive trumps news integrity i.e. news as a business.
– Human brains pay more attention to drama and conflict i.e. the leading and bleeding quip, zero cost rage bait is everywhere.
– Human brains generally seek confirmation of beliefs i.e. personal information bubbles now possible.
– Genuine news is sloshing around with entertainment and disingenuous content i.e. the sewer referenced in the article.
– Unconstrained and undisclosed bias in the news organizations. i.e. too many mission-driven journalists. Journalists also skew urban, secular, and highly educated.
– Inadequate separation with the political class. i.e. government funding and regulatory control without complete and transparent independence guarantee.
– Other?
All very concerning considering that news produced by journalism is an essential service in a healthy democracy.

29th November 2023 at 10:01 am

Courtesy of RJKWells, add the 24-hour news cycle to the list of reasons.

29th November 2023 at 12:18 pm

There was a time when news, weather, and sports could be summed up succinctly at dinnertime each night on television in 20-30 minutes, the viewer then moving on to other things in life that really mattered. Less really was more. That balanced era, of course, has long since passed.

Look back to the emergence of the 24-7 television news cycle in 1980 as the paradigm shift that took journalism to the lonely state it now finds itself in. The need to find ways to keep their audience continuously engaged – and their ratings up – news organizations are the ones who jumped onto that metaphorical hamster wheel, always chasing the next great story to capture the public’s attention. No surprise then about the growth in differing and opposing views each putting different angles on events. Once credible news organizations got caught up in a spin cycle, competing with dubious entities – hello InfoWars – that have jumped into the fray. It’s all just a blur. Throw in the unintended consequences of the internet and what it has added to the mix, media organizations should not be surprised they are now swimming against a torrent that really is of their creation, now forced to stake their claim on ever shrinking sources of revenue (to that, I say government will never be their salvation).

As they struggle to regain market share and, most importantly, public trust, the news industry’s bumpy ride is far from over. Buckle up, buttercup.

29th November 2023 at 10:54 am

“…to firms that subscribed to a tough code of journalistic ethics like those in place for the CBC, the Globe and Mail, and CTV.”

Surely he can’t be serious.

30th November 2023 at 1:48 am

If the issue with Canadian media isn’t financing, can we stop the public subsidies?

The current level of subsidies allows organizations to exist without any accountability. If your service is valued, you should survive through your customer’s direct support.

Perhaps the real issue is that the media is trying to survive in a new operating environment with an old mindset. While you eliminate social media, perhaps you could also eliminate the internet? Can we go back to newspapers that leave ink stains on your fingers?

29th November 2023 at 8:37 pm

I use X (Twitter) to get international news. I only follow politicians, academics, journalists and European news media, all reliable sources. They all have reputations to protect and give good commentary. I never read the comments to their posts. That’s were the nastiness is. I also subscribe to some Substack commentators and four online independent newspapers. I listen to podcasts also. And I NEVER watch CBC, CTV or Global. It is possible to be well-informed without the MSM.

29th November 2023 at 8:07 pm
Gord Edwards

While I use social media I didn’t grow up in the social media age. So perhaps I lack some appreciation of the impact of it on younger audiences. But I can’t buy the claim that lack of trust in Canadian news media is simply a product of “guilt by association”. The quality of news coverage has been going downhill for years and this trend pre-dates social media and the widespread adoption of the internet.

The social media format may well drive news quality to a degree (shorter articles easily consumed). There is some truth to Marshall McLuhan’s conclusion that “The medium is the message”. But social media didn’t force legacy media to adopt biased reporting as a norm. It doesn’t force the CBC (for example) to not cover stories that don’t support their narrative. And if their news industry leaves social media their own platform, that won’t change the internet-driven dynamic or their own quality issues.

Bias is a matter of human nature. The aim for all of us is – and a critical component of journalism was – to acknowledge and guard against one’s own bias. Don’t just critically examine your opponent’s position, critically examine your own. I consistently find it both amusing and frustrating when members of the media talk about the evils of social media. Their lack of self awareness is stunning.

Currently Canadian media writ large functions from a principle inspired by Marx’s take on philosophy – in this case ‘the point is not to merely report on the world but to change it’. If the Canadian legacy news media wants to be taken seriously, they should behave like responsible news organizations not activists or partisans. If that were the case people might be more willing to pay for it.

29th November 2023 at 5:15 pm
Thor Ragnorson

Guilt by association is the thesis in this piece? Unbelievable. The public trust deficit in the MSM is the product of the narrative liberal fairy tale that the MSM produces. Try telling the truth. The public also has some guilt in this. Many people prefer fairy tales, doomsday prophecies and gossip to reality and a 1/2 hour of TV news a day can’t provide anything more than an information snack. We presume people want the truth but with just over 60% voter turnout in federal and provincial elections and less than 40% in municipal elections a sizeable segment of the population is actually tuned out from our democracy.

29th November 2023 at 3:33 pm
Bruce Westmoreland

I was always taught never to believe everything you read especially when it comes to a panel of experts.

29th November 2023 at 10:39 am
Ian Gray

Not mentioned by Mr Stursberg is one of the biggest nails in the coffin of media trust is the subsidization of the media by the Government in power. This has had a major impact. And that nail has just become larger in the Fall Economic Staement.

29th November 2023 at 10:25 pm
The Hub Staff

Thank you all for contributing to Hub Forum. In light of the agreement between Google and the federal government, how can news media bridge the gap of trust?

29th November 2023 at 3:40 pm