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‘Conspiracy theorists’ threaten mainstream media, says Canadian PM

Justin Trudeau wants “massive changes” in the news landscape

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday blamed social media for preventing major news outlets from shaping public opinion the way they used to.

The Liberal Party leader took his message to the Conservative stronghold of Alberta, sitting down with radio host Ryan Jespersen for an exclusive 30-minute interview on his Real Talk podcast.

“There is out there a deliberate undermining of the mainstream media,” Trudeau said, answering a question towards the end of the interview. “There are the conspiracy theorists, there are the social media drivers who are trying to do everything they can to keep people in their little filter bubbles, to prevent people from actually agreeing on a common set of facts, the way CBC and CTV – when they were our only sources of news – used to project across the country, at least a common understanding of things.”

Earlier this month, Trudeau denounced the move by Bell Media to lay off many of its local journalists and sell 45 of its 103 regional radio stations, arguing that local journalism holds Canadian democracy together. 

“There are massive changes that need to happen in our media landscape, and [the] government can try and create conditions and incentives for it to happen,” he told Jespersen on Wednesday. 

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“We’re putting money towards local independent media,” Trudeau added, having argued a moment earlier that such overt funding would compromise news outlets as mouthpieces of the government.

In June 2023, the Canadian parliament passed the Online News Act (ONA), under which search engines and social media platforms would have to compensate news outlets for posting their content. While Google has complied, Facebook is “choosing to be bad guys about this,” Trudeau told Jespersen. Meta has responded to ONA by blocking all news content by Canadian publishers on Facebook and Instagram.

Ultimately, it’s up to Canadians to declare they don’t want to accept the “encrapification of news,” Trudeau said, borrowing the phrase from British Columbia Premier David Eby. 

Trudeau’s comments on the podcast also echoed those made by former US President Barack Obama in a May 2023 interview to CBS. Obama named “a divided media” as one of the things he was worried about, noting that the US once had “three TV stations … and people were getting a similar sense of what is true and what isn’t, what was real and what was not.”

“How do we return to that common conversation? How can we have a common set of facts?” the 44th US president wondered at the time.

February 22, 2024 at 03:20AM
RT

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