FeaturesOP-ED: NCRA calls for reinstatement of Local Journalism Initiative

OP-ED: NCRA calls for reinstatement of Local Journalism Initiative

In this pivotal moment for Canadian media, amid a storm of outrage over Bell Media’s drastic media cuts, the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA) urges the Canadian government to enact swift and decisive measures to bolster the backbone of local information—community media.

Firstly, we call for the immediate renewal of the Local Journalism Initiative. This program is not merely a lifeline for community-based journalism; it is the very scaffolding upon which the future of informed, local discourse must be built. Failure to do so will see hundreds more journalists leave the industry. Additionally, redirecting government advertising funds towards Canadian media organizations, particularly community media, is a pragmatic approach that would require no new spending. By reallocating advertising budgets, the government can significantly amplify the reach and impact of its messages and support local news creation without costing taxpayers any additional money.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed out on February 9th, recent decisions by Bell Media to reduce its investments in local journalism have highlighted the destructive cycle of acquisitions, layoffs, and divestments that have left many communities without access to quality local news.

Community radio stations are critical bastions of local news, culture, and community engagement. They provide a platform for students, artists, political and social activists, and community organizations to voice their perspectives and make a tangible impact. Broadcasting in at least 65 languages and reaching over 75% of Canada’s population, community radio stations are uniquely positioned to reflect the diverse fabric of Canadian society, offering vital local content that is increasingly scarce in today’s media ecosystem. However, the reality of shrinking advertising revenues, the impact of the pandemic on operations, and the closure of broadcasting and journalism programs across Canada pose significant threats to their sustainability.

This call for immediate action is not just about preserving an essential service; it’s a call to place community voices over the profit margins of multinational corporations. The time for half-measures has passed, and the moment to act is now to ensure the survival and flourishing of this indispensable pillar of Canadian democracy.

Learn more at mycommunitymyradio.ca

Barry Rooke
NCRA/ANREC Executive Director

Barry Rooke
Barry Rookehttps://ncra.ca
Barry Rooke has been the Executive Director for the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA/ANREC) since 2015. He has been a broadcaster since the age of 15, hosting over 1500 shows and podcasts. His master's thesis examined how radio stations used social media in 2011-2012. He lives in Ottawa and is leading the charge in developing a new national cider association, Cider Canada / Cidre Canada.

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