The federal budget has finally answered some of the questions about the Liberal government’s plans to subsidize the news business, which were first floated late last year. But the details revealed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau raises many more questions about Ottawa’s reasons for supporting journalism.
The federal government’s recent announcement of financial support for news organizations has been met with understandably wide-ranging reactions — from relief to skepticism, and worse. Among other measures, the package will incentivize consumers to sign up for digital news subscriptions and subsidize publishers through a tax credit on salaries paid to journalists. It’s good news for imperilled news businesses, but even some who share the government’s expressed concern over the sustainability of independent information about public affairs have expressed misgivings. The doubters include many journalists — the very people who stand most to gain from the promised support.