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Local news media being 'kneecapped' by COVID-19 – National Observer

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Local reporting is being kneecapped by pandemic-driven cuts to media outlets across B.C. at a time when community-specific, trustworthy reporting is vital to public health.

A project to map the impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian media paints a bleak picture of communities in Canada hurtling towards news poverty in the midst of a pandemic.

The project, which involves J-Source, the Local News Research Project at Ryerson University and the Canadian Association of Journalists, found 2,053 editorial and non-editorial staff have been laid off by media across Canada in the last six weeks. More than 100 outlets have been affected, with 48 community newspapers closing.

And experts say it is difficult to see how the already struggling industry could fully recover from such a blow.

In B.C., at least four media outlets have closed temporarily or permanently, and nine have cancelled some or all print editions or cut back on broadcasts.

Journalists at 16 publications in the province have been laid off and 14 outlets have cut or reduced hours for their reporters.

These include Glacier Media-owned community newspapers in the northern hubs of Dawson Creek, Prince George and Fort St. John, and Black Press Media-owned community papers across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

The pandemic-related cuts are only the latest blow, April Lindgren of the Local News Research Project told J-Source.

“To put the damage to the community newspaper sector in perspective, we know from the Local News Map that 215 community papers have been shut down in the last 12 years,” she said.

“For almost 50 papers to close in just the last six weeks is unprecedented. It shows just how seriously residents’ access to local news is being undermined.”

Community reporting in Vancouver has also been lost as legacy media staff see pay cuts and lay-offs. The Glacier Media-owned Vancouver Courier, where The Tyee’s Chris Cheung and many others got their starts in journalism, temporarily halted publication earlier this month and laid off most of its staff.

Traditional News Media Were Already Ill. COVID-19 Is Killing Some

Local weekly the Georgia Straight temporarily laid off most of its staff in March.

The media industry has been struggling to find a sustainable business model in the digital age for years. But since public health measures were put in place revenue for advertising-dependent outlets has sharply declined as businesses shutter and events are cancelled.

Publisher Jeanette Ageson said The Tyee is bucking the trend.

“When businesses started to close, right off the bat we lost most of our advertising revenue,” she said. “However, The Tyee has multiple revenue streams, and advertising makes up a small percentage of our budget so it was luckily not devastating.”

The Tyee’s model of independent journalism relies on support from readers while continuing to keep the site paywall-free, she said.

And reader contributions have increased since the pandemic began, allowing The Tyee to expand its coverage while others are forced to cut back, Ageson said. “I’m happy to report The Tyee is in stable condition.”

But as more than half of Canadians rely on traditional media to get news on the pandemic and internet access continues to be a problem for many rural, remote and Indigenous communities, local news is more important than ever to the daily lives of Canadians.

Many corporate media outlets have begun asking readers to subscribe, buy ads or donate to support their work.

Ageson suggests people take the time to get to know their local outlets’ situations.

“If you value their coverage and you are confident that your support will indeed go towards maintaining good coverage, consider giving,” she said. “Or, if there is a new local news startup in your community, check them out and see how you can help.”

The state of the industry is troubling for journalists and communities alike, said Ageson. Recognizing the journalists who are working in a pandemic and an industry crisis can go a long way, too.

“If you appreciate the coverage being done by your local reporters, a nice note of appreciation really goes a long way to boost spirits and let reporters know their work matters,” she said.

Moira Wyton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee

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The Media Kitchen wins Pillway, launches first campaign – Media In Canada

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The Media Kitchen wins Pillway, launches first campaign

A primarily digital campaign will target older adults and caregivers as the online pharmacy looks to grow its base.

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A primarily digital campaign will target older adults and caregivers as the online pharmacy looks to grow its base.

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#BlackOutTuesday spreads across social media in protest against George Floyd killing – CBC.ca

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Major broadcasters, music streaming companies and more are joining with celebrities and music labels in halting or altering their regular operations Tuesday to express solidarity with U.S. and international protests against the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

ViacomCBS Inc. said it would be on “on pause” for #BlackOutTuesday to reflect on recent events and to shift focus from “building business to building community.”

On Monday, the company had its channels — including CBS News, MTV and Comedy Central — transmit eight minutes and 46 seconds of breathing sounds with the words “I can’t breathe,” denouncing the incident last week that sparked mass protests across United States and abroad, including in Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

A Minneapolis police officer was arrested last week on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for his role in the death of the 46-year-old Floyd.

Streaming giant Spotify Technology said it would feature an eight minute and 46 second track of silence in select podcasts and playlists on Tuesday, while also halting social media publications. Apple Music said it would use the day to reflect and plan actions to support black artists, creators and communities.

Hitting pause on music industry 

On Monday, a host of record labels announced they would mark Tuesday by suspending business, delaying new music releases, and pledging support for racial justice organizations fighting inequality.

The initiative originated with #TheShowMustBePaused, an effort led by record industry executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang calling for an intentional disruption of the work week to protest against the deaths of black people in police custody.

They also issued a call to action, with suggestions that ranged from supporting the family of Floyd to learning about racial justice to joining grassroots anti-racism campaigns and protests.

“Our mission is to hold the industry at large — including major corporations and their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people — accountable,” the organizers said in a statement.

“This is not just a 24-hour initiative. We are and will be in this fight for the long haul.”

Social media participation

Dozens of artists and sports stars have spoken out against Floyd’s death and the racism they say lay behind it as the protests spread. Multiple musicians, including Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and Jay-Z have spoken out in response to the death and subsequent demonstrations, some of which have turned violent.

On Tuesday, celebrities such as Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Kylie Jenner all went dark on social media to acknowledge Floyd’s death. 

NBA stars including LeBron James and Steph Curry posted an empty black photo on their Instagram pages. The league’s official page posted the same photo with the hashtag “#NBATogether.”

Pushback on social posts

However, there has been pushback against some of these attempts at solidarity via social media.

Many people have been posting dark squares with the hashtags #BLM and #BlackLivesMatter.

Black activists have pointed out that including those tags drown out the existing posts, which share information about current protests, important resources and documentation of violence. 

In other cases, social media commenters are challenging the sincerity of both companies and individuals who have created “in solidarity” posts, questioning whether their real-life actions, choices and decisions reflect the same anti-racist sentiment they are currently expressing online.

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Media firms, celebrities join #BlackOutTuesday protests – The Globe and Mail

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A #BlackOutTuesday Instagram post displayed on a phone on June 2, 2020 in Wallington, England.

Mark Trowbridge/Getty Images

Major broadcasters, celebrities and music streaming companies including Apple Music and Spotify turned off or made changes to their services on Tuesday to mark their solidarity with protests against the killing of George Floyd.

ViacomCBS Inc said it will be on “on pause” for #BlackOutTuesday to reflect on recent events and to shift focus from “building business to building community.”

The company on Monday had its channels, including CBS News, MTV and Comedy Central, transmit 8 minutes and 46 seconds of breathing sounds with the words “I can’t breathe,” denouncing the incident last week that sparked protests across America.

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A Minneapolis police officer was arrested last week on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for his role in the death of the 46-year-old Floyd.

Celebrities including Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Kylie Jenner all went dark on social media to acknowledge Floyd’s death.

NBA stars including LeBron James and Steph Curry posted an empty black photo on their Instagram pages. The league’s official page posted the same photo with the hashtag “#NBATogether.”

Streaming giant Spotify Technology said it would feature an 8 minute and 46 second long track of silence in select podcasts and playlists on Tuesday, while also halting social media publications.

Apple Music said it would use the day to reflect and plan actions to support black artists, creators and communities.

Dozens of artists and sports stars have spoken out against Floyd’s death and the racism they say lay behind it as the protests spread through U.S. cities.

Leading record labels said they would mark Tuesday by suspending business and working with communities to fight racial inequality.

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“Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart!,” Rihanna wrote on Instagram.

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