Inequality of Information: When You Want to Read the News But Can’t

I want to read the news but I can’t. It’s behind a paywall.

I want to read a left leaning newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and a paper labeled as right wing, The Epoch Times. But I can’t read either because they are behind a paywall. I don’t think it is right to restrict those who cannot afford a subscription. That may not be me, but it may be a vast number who are living at the poverty level.

I could sacrifice and I could justify getting subscriptions, while living what is defined as just above the poverty level in Canada, but I think of the many others who may not have such a carefully crafted budget and who may not be able to keep the credit man at bay.

Lower income means a lower standard of living but when this effects knowing what is going on in the world, I think this is of concern. The trouble with poverty is that it can affect access to information in other ways, and reduce possibility of advancement. For instance, if you cannot afford college tuition then you can’t get a higher education and if you cannot get a higher education then you stand less chance of lifting yourself out of poverty. Today, however, education itself will cause poverty as tuitions escalate. A friend who finally received her Masters Degree stated she is now $60,000 in debt and that is low by comparison to others I’ve heard of.

But back to the topic. Is there not a way to allow everyone to simply access a newspaper, any newspaper? Sometimes the two newspapers I mentioned offer special subscription deals, but once they have your credit card information it can be difficult to “unsubscribe” after the offer runs up. With The Globe and Mail this has been an ongoing problem that many have complained about. You can subscribe online but you cannot unsubscribe without making a phone call. We have all experienced the hassle it is to get a real person who knows what they are doing on the other end of the line. I must add that it is demoralizing to go through this process, repeatedly, but that is a topic for another day.

With all the focus on misinformation and disinformation, are we finally supposed to content ourselves with no information?

Heritage minister clarifies government won’t be licensing news outlets following backlash

February 3, 2020 news article by Terry Pedwell

Commentary

The Liberal government is revising Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications laws and it’s a good thing somebody is watching. As a blogger I am particularly interested in the need for freedom of speech online. The idea of licensing news sites does not sit well with me at all.

A report released last week, called “Canada’s Communications Future: Time To Act,” compiled by a panel of “independent broadcast experts” included the following recommendation, as posted in the article:

that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) or another regulatory body control licensing of all companies creating “audio, audiovisual, and alphanumeric news content.”

The article concludes by stating that,

The CRTC currently issues licenses to TV and radio broadcasting outlets but does not regulate content on digital outlets such as Google and Facebook, on websites or in print.

Let’s watch that it stays that way.

More information on the CRTC’s plans to regulate Netflix’s Canadian content can be found in a January 29 CBC article by Eli Glasner.