Editorials - June 30, 2023
Back to basics
Rather than negotiate a fair deal to compensate news publishers and broadcasters for their content, Meta and Google announced on Thursday that they would block news sites once Bill C-18 is passed.
The Bill, which received royal assent on June 22, allows for news businesses - large and small - to come together to negotiate fair market arrangements for news content with dominant search engines and social media companies, similar to the deal worked out in Australia.
The big publishers, especially those with national audiences, have the most to gain from the Bill, as well as the most to lose if their content is blocked. For better or worse, small-market publishers have had the most difficulty generating revenue from their digital platforms, so being pushed off the social media sites would have little to no effect on their ability to produce news. The deal is unlikely to result in much revenue for community newspapers in small markets such as those The Citizen serves. In fact, having no access to local news on Facebook and Google might be the best thing for our community. In order to get the local news, residents would have to buy their subscription to a trusted media source, such as this newspaper. As the circulation increases, advertisers would see more value in local promotion. Residents would see the products on offer at their own downtown retailers and start shopping there.
This could be a win-win situation. – DS
Back in time
On Saturday night, Sticks and Stones, the first of the Donnelly family plays at the Blyth Festival this season, raised its curtain. It tells the story of a community with deep religious division, over which one side has outsized control, and threats, intimidation and violence were meant to bring detractors “on side” with the beliefs of one ideology. What a relief that such antiquated behaviour has been left in the 1800s.
Well... almost. The Township of Norwich remains standing as a shameful monument to that kind of thinking. There, its Netherlands Reformed Congregation (and its belief system) maintains a hold on the community with major influence on its township council. First, council said no to the Pride flag in a way that made national news. Then the stories started coming out. In an extensive piece by Global News’ Ashleigh Stewart, there are tales of aggressive hostility towards those who dare to defy the old-time church’s beliefs of shutting down on Sundays and that homosexuality is akin to bestiality and incest.
Stewart says that shops that open on Sundays or fly their own Pride flags are threatened with boycotts and openly vandalized, while private citizens who dare to mow the lawn or play with their children on Sundays, report being asked to cut it out. Those who haven’t played ball report incidents that include firearms and other vile behaviour.
Surely there are some who think this sounds like Eutopia, but others will see this as an ugly mutation of the church/state divide with a church making bold decisions on behalf of everyone. And, with small councils and little interest in running (or voting) in Ontario’s smaller communities, as well as Premier Doug Ford’s ever-expanding “strong mayor” powers, it’s reasonable to fear more Norwichs.
Most have said they like their religion and politics not touching on their plates. To see this regression is not only disheartening, but it’s dangerous to a country most of us thought that we knew. – SL
A word in the hand
Elementary school students returning in the fall will once again be given mandatory cursive writing lessons, as Ontario is reversing its 2006 decision to make handwriting optional. Cursive’s detractors feel that modern technology has made it obsolete, while those in favour think it only prudent that their child be able to sign their name.
“Move fast and break things” is an oft-cited motto for disrupting technologies. But the “things” that get broken rarely belong to those doing the disrupting. AirB&B made travel cheaper for tourists and contributed to a housing crisis. Amazon ships your jeans same-day, causing deplorable working conditions for warehouse workers. Those who can afford a personal vehicle don’t miss rail transit infrastructure. It takes only a few years to eliminate these systems and practices that we long depended on, with the most vulnerable members of our communities paying the price for the benefit of faraway millionaires.
Dick and Jane may not need to sign their names in our age of smartphones, but we can’t be fooled into thinking this gold will stay. We must remember that the technologies we depend on today are not utilities, but products we buy at the seller’s price, which always seems to go up once they are the only option left standing. To abandon the practice of learning cursive would be the breaking of a very long cultural thread without a plan for retrieving it once the price of communication gets too high for all those but the wealthy among us. A pen is a lot cheaper than an iPhone, and you don’t need to buy proprietary paper to use it on - all you need is to be able to read and write. – SBS