It’s easy to blame the internet for the loss of journalism jobs over the last two decades. Conventional wisdom is that the new technology has destroyed the news industry by giving away its product and undercutting the traditional business model for news. Yet the truth is that all this is happening in a time where more Canadians than ever are getting news from newspapers.
How can it be that more people are reading news and consuming many other types of information yet newspapers are under threat? They’re reading it in formats that don’t allow newspapers to make a return on the money that goes into producing the story.
Although the newspaper industry appears to be on a death watch, new media oligopolies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are in robust financial health, to put it mildly. But Google is an aggregator and Facebook and Twitter are social media sites. None creates its own content — they either rely on users to do it for them or repackage what others have created and resell it, making their money both from the advertising they put on their pages and from selling market intelligence they develop by tracking and gathering data about their users. This amounts to intellectual property theft on a monumental, historically unprecedented scale.