Thinking beyond print to support investigative journalism


In the quarter ending November 30, 2008, and an overwhelming $3.7 billion debt. In the past 12 months, Canwest has also cut

With traditional news funding models under siege, the former publisher of The Toronto Star John Honderich has taken a look at five potential options.

His main focus is how to ensure that quality, investigative journalism continues to receive the funding it needs. The piece is well thought out and argued, aside from one underlying assumption – that this is about saving a media format, the newspaper.

From the start, Honderich asks: “Whether serious print journalism?”

He goes on to talk about various ideas to revive newspapers, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to pay for newspaper subscriptions for all 18-year-olds.

There is no denying that newspapers have been the vehicles for powerful, investigating journalism. But it is time to stop equating a form of journalism with a format for delivering that journalism.

There is no reason to assume that print is the only or even the best vehicle for investigative journalism.

The newspaper is a delivery vehicle for news. For a younger generation, that delivery vehicle is the internet.

As one of the comments on the story says:

My son is well educated but will not read a hardcopy newspaper. He is well read and takes in many different news sources but it’s all via the net. That’s the way that generation is. You need to capture and keep their interest ’cause we hard copy guys are leaving this earth!!

Let’s stop rehearsing tired arguments about journalism that are linked to a means of distribution.


National Post halts Monday edition during summer


One of Canada’s two national newspapers, The National Post, will stop printing Monday editions of the publication for three months through the summer.

From July to early September, the generally right-of-centre, decade-old CanWest newspaper will hold the presses one day a week in attempt to claw back some revenue shortfall. The stoppage will effect nine editions and no lay-offs are expected. Earlier this year, the company let go of 560 people.

The company is nearly $4 million in debt and is trying to prevent filing for bankruptcy while balancing the books with a multitude of international assets as well as television and print properties throughout Canada. In a short article this week, the Globe and Mail reported CanWest’s dropping stock value and highlighted the economic challenge currently faced by many news organizations:

Cost-cutting has hit virtually all areas of the media sector amid a pullback in ad spending that has affected all companies from newspapers and magazines to TV stations, radio companies and online businesses.

For its series on the future of newspapers, the CanWest newswire reported that the death of mainstream media is much exaggerated. Author William Wray Carney reflects on the symbiotic relationship of mainstream and new media and also suggest there is no technological replacement for face-to-face interaction. The future could be bright, he writes:

Even for newspapers, the oldest of the old media, there is reasonable room for optimism for the future. As the Aspers consistently point out, the dailies are making money; their financial troubles relate to high debt, not lack of profit, and once the recession ends, they can reasonably expect to increase profit.

There is no mention of the decision by CanWest, owned by the Winnipeg-based Asper family, to put the Monday edition of the Post on a nine-week hiatus. What’s more, despite discussing the future of print media and the news industries in Canada today, the article does not include a single mention of journalism.