Now in the News: Canada’s Online News Act Will Force Google And Facebook To Pay Out $329.2m A Year

October 19, 2022

Canada’s Online News Act Will Force Google And Facebook To Pay Out $329.2m A Year, Parliamentary Report Finds

Google and Facebook could be forced to pay out CA$329.2m a year to Canada’s news publishers after the country passes its Online News Act, according to a new government estimate. The total, equal to £214m, would cover around 30% of publishers’ editorial costs, a report from the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) said.

Canada looks set to become the second country after Australia to pass a law forcing certain digital platforms to negotiate cash-for-content deals with news publishers. Estimates suggest that Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code has resulted in Google and Facebook paying out more than AU$200m (£115m) a year to publishers.

Press Gazette has estimated that a similar law in the UK could lead to publisher payments worth more than £170m a year, or £250m-plus if broadcasters are included, as they are in Australia and under Canada’s plans.

Canada’s legislation, Bill C-18, is currently making its way through Ottawa’s House of Commons. The news industry hopes it could pass into law this year, but it could be delayed until 2023.

The law would seek to force Google and Facebook, now known as Meta at a corporate level, to negotiate “fair commercial deals” with Canadian news companies. It would allow publishers to negotiate collectively, and threaten the technology giants with arbitration if deals are not struck

Nonprofit Journalism Jobs Continue Growth In Compensation, Study Finds

Compensation for nonprofit journalism jobs has increased over the past two years, according to a study released today by the Institute for Nonprofit News. The INN Member Compensation Study shows that salaries for editorial positions have grown significantly, with the average reporter salary jumping to $82,943 from $58,858 in 2020, when the first study was conducted. Benefits have markedly increased, too, with 86% of news organizations offering paid time off, compared with just over half in 2020.

“Put simply, the financial benefits of working for a nonprofit news organization in the INN Network have gotten better over time, and they compare favorably with advertised compensation packages at comparably sized legacy media outlets,” said Jonathan Kealing, INN’s chief network officer.

The size of the INN Network has grown rapidly over the past few years, to more than 400 independent news organizations in 49 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and parts of the Caribbean and Canada.

Study highlights

• Paid time off (PTO): 86% offer a paid time off program (up from just over half in 2020), with an average of 19 paid days off plus 12 paid holidays.

• Parental leave: more than half offer paid parental leave that is not required by or spelled out in the Family Medical Leave Act (up from 36%), and the average length of paid time has increased from 9 to 12 weeks.

• Retirement plan: 60% offer a retirement savings plan (up from 54%), and about two-thirds of those provide matching contributions; 95% match the first 4%.

• Medical: nearly 72% offer an employer-sponsored medical plan and 70% offer a dental plan, paying on average 84% of the premiums. This data point was not included in the 2020 study but INN believes, based on anecdotal evidence, that this benefit has expanded.

• Work from home: 99% offer the ability to work remotely, with 71% citing work/family balance as a rationale

Room for improvement

• Only about one-third offer short-term or long-term disability benefits

• Less than half offer life insurance

• More than half do not extend the employee health plan to spouses and dependents

• Only 16% offer education assistance

Newspaper Ownership Shifting Back To Local

A group of regional newspaper chains and family-owned newspaper groups are beginning to buy back newspapers from major groups like Gannett, Alden Global Capital and Lee Enterprises, which are trying to reduce their footprints to save costs.

Yes, but: The churn rates for papers sold to smaller groups, in some cases, remains high, according to a new report from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Driving the news:While some groups, like family chain Paxton Media, have significantly increased their footprint in the past two years, they have also consolidated papers after buying them to manage costs.

• Paxton has bought 60 papers in the past two and a half years, but also sold five and closed or merged 10.

• Ogden Newspapers, another family chain, has bought 28 in that time frame, but it’s closed or merged 11, according to the report. By the numbers: In the past two years, roughly two-thirds of the 90 papers that newspaper giant Gannett has sold were bought by either Paxton or CherryRoad Media, a regional chain based out of New Jersey that was launched in 2020.

• Today, six of the 10 largest newspaper owners in the U.S. are regional chains, and half of those chains didn’t exist a decade ago. What to watch: Deal activity in the newspaper space is expected to continue as more big chains continue to offload papers.

• Gannett, for example, is reportedly looking to sell another 60 of its nearly 500 newspapers, after selling more than 100 since 2020.

• The Medill report suggests most newspaper deals fall between “two- and six-times cash flow, or approximately 10%-30% of revenue if a property is unprofitable.”

Local Newspapers Try Mail Delivery As Drivers Choose Better-Paying Gigs

annett and other publishers rely on U.S. Postal Service in areas where subscribers are too spread out for traditional delivery to make sense

Earlier this year, the Odessa American cut its print circulation to two days a week from seven and started mailing newspapers to subscribers. The publisher of the Odessa American found it so difficult to find workers to deliver the West Texas newspaper in recent years that at one point he handled the job himself.

Then earlier this year, Patrick Canty, the paper’s publisher for two decades, cut the paper’s print circulation from seven days a week to two and started mailing the issues to subscribers using the U.S. Postal Service’s same-day delivery option instead of relying on delivery drivers.

Many local news publishers across the U.S. are choosing to mail their newspapers to subscribers as they cope with driver shortages—a problem exacerbated by high fuel costs, wage inflation and the secular decline of the newspaper industry that has meant that subscribers in some areas are too few and far between for traditional delivery to make sense.

The number of newspapers sent to subscribers or sold at newsstands has dropped by about a third in 2½ years, according to recent data from the Alliance for Audited Media that looks at circulation for the top 50 newspapers.“It’s hard on a person,” Mr. Canty said of the delivery job, which initially took him from midnight until about 11:30 a.m. He said many of the people who used to deliver the Odessa American have found jobs with better hours and pay, including working in the local oil fields or for food-delivery services.

High-Circulation Newspapers See Fewer Layoffs

Despite some job losses, layoffs fell at large newspapers and digital news sites in 2021 compared to the prior year, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.

In 2021, 11% of high-circulation newspapers—those with average Sunday circulation of 50,000+ experienced layoffs, down from 33% in 2020 and 32% in 2017. This is the lowest figure since Pew began tracking layoffs in 2017.

In addition, only 3% of digital native news sites—those with a monthly average of at 10 million unique visitors— saw job falloffs, versus 18% in 2020.

One possible reason is the growth of the U.S. economy in 2021. In addition, “Widespread staff cuts in 2020 also may have left some newsrooms with less room to cut in 2021,” Pew writes,

Pew notes that in August, Gannett laid off roughly 3% of its newsroom workforce, affecting around 400 staffers.