The Online News Act and Eagle Feather News
- Kerry Benjoe | September 12, 2023
Some may have noticed there haven’t been any Facebook posts from Eagle Feather News.
As the editor, it is my job to share what is going on and what readers can expect in the coming months.
In June, the federal government passed Bill C-18 also known as the Online News Act.
What does this mean?
This act means social media giants such as Meta and Google will have to pay news sites for the content they share online when someone clicks on a story through a link.
The government says some sort of revenue sharing needs to happen to make certain Canadian news continues to exist.
Meta and Google say this act is unworkable because it is basically amounts to a tax on links with no recognition for free marketing.
Media outlets, such as Eagle Feather, have been sharing our content on social media to generate traffic back to our website and to reach a broader audience.
Every time a person clicks on an Eagle Feather story, it generates traffic to our website. We then can take those unique page visits to potential advertisers to show them how large our reach is online. Larger numbers could spell more advertising revenue for Eagle Feather, but is not guaranteed.
Meta and Google say helping to generate traffic should be enough and do not want to share any of the revenue they receive. The reality is increasingly more advertisers are directing their advertising dollars from news sites and newspapers to social media, so even if the traffic is directed to the sites the advertising dollars have already been spent.
At the present time Meta and Google do not share advertising revenue with news sites when they share news content produced by journalists.
Shrinking advertising revenues means shrinking newsrooms because there is less money to pay staff.
This is also true at Eagle Feather News.
We currently operate on a minimal budget and have no full-time or part-time staff writers. We rely on freelancers who we pay for through ad sales.
The social media blackout is about more than just money.
It means important stories are no longer easily accessible to the public.
We at Eagle Feather pride ourselves on being able to tell the “good” news stories.
Mainstream media delivers the hard news stories, which are needed but what ultimately happens is the public only sees one side of Indigenous people. With fewer and fewer journalists in each newsroom it means there is less opportunity to do features on Indigenous people.
This is where Eagle Feather comes in. We fill that niche because we focus on all the good things happening in our communities.
We are more than just our trauma.
We choose to highlight our successes in business, health, sports, politics, art, music, education, language and culture.
We are determined.
Eagle Feather has been providing positive Indigenous content for more than 26 years and at the present time we have no intention of stopping.
In fact, we are the only provincial newspaper. We service even our most isolated communities with a paper from September to July. In August we produce a digital newspaper.
Normally, we would start sharing our content on Facebook after the paper is published. In the past it is not uncommon for our stories to be shared hundreds of times.
Currently, our Facbook Page has been disabled, so we are trying to figure out how we can get our amazing stories out to the public. On Google it has become increasingly more difficult to find our content.
Our website is still operational www.eaglefeathernews.com.
The news blackout on social media sites has occurred in other parts of the world such as Australia. In that instance an agreement was reached, so I remain hopeful something similar can happen here in Canada sooner rather than later.
Currently news broadcasters and newspapers are requesting Canada’s Competition Bureau to investigate Meta’s decision to block news content on its digital platforms and describe the move as anticompetitive. The social media giants
Until some type of agreement can be made, I urge everyone to check our website daily for new stories or subscribe for an online copy of the paper.
The team here at Eagle Feather will be looking at alternative ways to share our content online.
To those who continue to choose to advertise with Eagle Feather News, you are appreciated by the team, the freelancers and the communities we service.