Now in the News: Canadian Government Suspends All Advertising On Facebook, Instagram

July 13, 2023

Canadian Government Suspends All Advertising On Facebook, Instagram

On Wednesday, the Canadian government announced that it will cease all ad spending — about $7.5 million per year — on Facebook and Instagram. The decision comes after Meta and Google blocked Canadian news in opposition to a law requiring technology platforms to compensate publishers for linking to their content.

“We have decided to take the necessary step of suspending all Government of Canada advertising to Facebook,” tweeted Canada’s Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez. “We cannot continue paying advertising dollars to Meta while they refuse to pay their fair share to Canadian news organizations.”

The Online News Act, or Bill C-18, was passed into law last month. The government is currently in the process of finalizing the bill, which would require tech platforms to share a portion of ad revenue before the law goes into effect at the end of this year.

According to the bill, Google and Meta currently earn 80% of all digital advertising revenue in Canada — “ad dollars that used to be spent on Canadian news outlets, who report on local and regional news,” noted Rodriguez

Former Boston Globe President Vinay Mehra Sues, Alleging The Henrys Owe Him $12 Million

Former Boston Globe Media Partners (BGMP) president Vinay Mehra has filed an explosive lawsuit against the company, charging that he was fired in 2020 because Globe owners John and Linda Henry didn’t want to pay him the commissions and other compensation he’d earned for transforming the newspaper into a profitable operation. Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub has all the details as well as a copy of the suit.

Mehra was hired in 2017 from Politico, where he was executive vice president and chief financial officer. Before that, he worked as chief financial officer at GBH in Boston from 2008 to 2015.

According to the lawsuit, BGMP owes Mehra more than $12 million in lost commissions, wages and other compensation. Gaffin writes:

In his suit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Mehra charges that despite returning the Globe to profitability, John Henry and his corporate minions decided to cheap out — and then ousted him after threatening and lying about him with an unquenchable “thirst for vengeance” sending him a termination letter alleging “fraud, misappropriation, embezzlement or acts of similar dishonesty.”…

At this point we’re only getting one side of the story, as BGMP has not yet filed a response. But if Mehra’s numbers are accurate, then the lawsuit provides some insight into how the Globe transformed itself into one of the country’s most financially successful large regional newspapers. In 2019, for instance, Mehra claims that the Globe implemented $10 million in cuts “through a combination of targeted layoffs, reduction in vendor costs, reduction in distribution costs, and other measures.

New York Times Will Close Sports Desk, Sending Readers To The Athletic

The New York Times announced Monday that it plans to shutter its sports desk, relying instead on the Athletic, the subscription sports website it purchased last year, for most sports coverage. The Times will offer jobs elsewhere in the newsroom to current sports staffers, the company said, and plans to form a new team on its business desk focused on the business of sports.

“This evolution in our coverage strategy and newsroom is intended to give our readers an even more comprehensive array of sports coverage — which will also include greater use of daily news and features from The Athletic’s extensive sports journalism on our homescreen, newsletters and other channels, such as print,” read the note from Times executive editor Joe Kahn and managing editor Monica Drake.

The Times bought the Athletic last year for $550 million in an effort to boost its subscription business and add to its noncore news offerings such as cooking and games. The Athletic brought with it around 1 million paid subscribers, thanks to around $140 million in venture-capital funding.

Since the acquisition, however, there has been friction in how the Athletic should operate in conjunction with the Times’ own sports desk, which as of last year had around 40-50 people. There was notable overlap in coverage between the two newsrooms, which prompted Kahn to tell sports staffers earlier this year that there needed to be more integration between the two staffs

Newsroom Unions Are Pushing Management To Negotiate AI Use

Newsroom unions are asking their employers to agree to new terms on how generative artificial intelligence is used and the impact it will have on their employees and editorial production as more media companies begin to adopt the technology.

The topic of AI use is a complicated and nuanced issue and the way the technology is being implemented at media companies varies widely. As employers determine how to adopt AI into their businesses, newsroom unions are also determining how to negotiate with company management around its impact to their members.

Insider’s union reached a tentative agreement on a contract with their employer with language that addresses the topic, stating that the newsroom will have at least one union member involved in conversations about using new tech like AI — as well as the resources to learn how to use it.

U.S. editorial employees at the FT’s trade publications are pushing to have new technology like AI be a subject of bargaining with company management, a WGA East spokesperson said. It’s the only tentative agreement touching on the topic of AI at WGA East’s newsroom unions so far, they added.

Meanwhile, Dow Jones’ union IAPE proposed new AI-related language as part of their ongoing contract negotiations, stating that the company will not “displace” union members by using AI tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard. “We’re all kind of scrambling to try to figure out how to handle it,” said one editor at G/O Media, who is involved in lobbying G/O Media to revisit its union contract to include AI-related language.