To our members, concerned citizens, and advocates for a free and informed society,
We stand on the precipice of a critical juncture in Canadian journalism. The recent decision by Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram) to block all news sources in Canada has set off alarm bells across our nation. It is with a profound sense of urgency and concern that we unite to address this pressing issue, fully aware of the profound consequences it carries for our access to vital information, student journalism, and the heartbeat of our local communities.
This alarming development, which came into effect as of August 1, 2023, has emerged from a confluence of factors, including ongoing disputes over news content, proposed legislation mandating social media companies to pay for news content, and the ongoing battle against misinformation and fake news on these platforms.
The impact of Meta’s decision reverberates across the media landscape. However, it strikes a particularly devastating blow to student journalism. Canadian University Press (CUP), a national co-operative of student news publications from universities and colleges across Canada, finds itself ensnared in the turmoil. Despite not being part of Bill C-18, CUP members face blockades, denying young Canadians access to vital local news sources and stifling the growth of future journalists.
Simultaneously, Not-For-Profit Campus/Community/Indigenous Radio stations, indispensable community pillars located in over 100 communities nationwide, grapple with the recent restrictions imposed by Meta on social media platforms. These stations are lifelines, offering crucial local news, information, and entertainment where other media seldom tread. Relying on volunteers and dedicated staff, they are a vital thread in the local community’s fabric.
It is imperative to underscore the gravity of these restrictions. They jeopardize the primary source of news and information for countless local communities, leaving them potentially bereft of vital updates and coverage.
Members of both our organizations have rallied to contact their local Members of Parliament, meticulously detailing the consequences—loss of revenue in fundraising efforts, diminishing access to volunteer support, and the abandonment of local news by listeners and readers. We fervently encourage our supporters to reach out to their MPs, sharing the profound impact of these actions on their lives.
We urgently implore the Government of Canada and Meta to swiftly collaborate and rectify this situation. The loss of local news and information directly and detrimentally affects the quality of life on campuses and in communities across the nation. Time is of the essence, and we cannot afford to delay in preserving our cherished access to news and community vitality.
Andrew Mrozowski — Canadian University Press
Barry Rooke — National Campus and Community Radio Association