2023 has held a significant shift for the media landscape in Canada, from mass layoffs of journalists, to media mergers threatening to increase corporate monopolies in Canadian media. It was in this context that North Star journalists went out across the country to interview the public on their perception of media in Canadian society.
When asked where they got their news from, the majority of people answered that they got their news online - although a recent bill could change that. In June, Bill C-18 or the Online News Act was passed in the House of Commons. Government backers of the bill claim that it is an attempt to shift advertising revenue back into the hands of Canadian media organizations and journalists. Meta (the tech conglomerate behind Facebook and Instagram) and Google have both responded by claiming they will block all links to Canadian news articles on their respective platforms, putting into question the access the public will have to Canadian news online.
When asked about what role the media should play, Simon, a pyschometrician in Montreal said "They [the media] need to stop treating things on a day to day basis, and start looking at things more deeply". This sentiment reflects the general crisis in Canadian news rooms, which are becoming increasingly more underfunded and understaffed. In June, Bell Media laid off over 1,300 workers, and is in the process of closing or selling nine of its radio stations across the country. These are the latest cuts in a general trend of local newspapers and newsrooms being gutted, which has lead to dwindling coverage and investigations into local issues affecting everyday Canadians.
An anonymous community worker told North Star "When it come's to newspaper, whoever's got the big bucks is who's running things." This was confirmed when at the end of June, it became known to the public that Post Media, a Canadian media conglomerate which is owned by an American hedgefund, and Torstar, the corporation behind Toronto Star, were discussing a possible merger between the two companies.
The merger would have represented one of the largest media mergers in Canadian history, and would have further concentrated the control that a couple corporations have over the media landscape in Canada. This wasn't the first time that Postmedia and Torstar have engaged in monopolistic antics. In 2017, the two corporations traded 41 publications with the intention of immediately eliminate 35 of them. This ended competition in many regions and resulted in the layoff of approximately 300 people.