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Budget: giving ethnic press overdue recognition

Budget: giving ethnic press overdue recognition

TORONTO – Say what you want about her, but Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, is an accomplished and polished professional. She projects a sense of purpose that is inclusive, sometimes almost apologetic because she has not accomplished as much as she would like.
I went to her press conference on the Budget, last Tuesday, structured specifically for the “ethnic press”, not to hear the spin on the Budget but to be appraised of budgetary initiatives of importance to that same “ethnic press and media” and to the new demographic reality that is emerging as Ontario’s future. 
It is no secret that the News Business is a challenge at the best of times. 
The “ethnic”, third language press is no exception.
 It suffers from sparse revenue streams that are overly-dependent on parsimonious advertisers who “want more than much for less than little”.
The Corriere is not immune to those conditions. Neither are governments and/or political parties. 
The latter crave coverage, want “fact-based” reporting and fair analysis.
They remind me of a former Federal Minister who said [to me], “I know you have to critique government, but don’t say anything bad about me.” 
He was an abominable failure as a Cabinet Minister but is now a “darling” guest on trio of radio stations whose programming is a showcase for the “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts” crowd. 
This is regrettable for two reasons primarily: (1) they mistakenly are held up as iconic mainstream (English language) media – balanced, informative and authoritative (researched), (2) governments and businesses feed a shrinking market. 
Population trends are not kind to Anglophone or Francophone segments of the Canadian population.
Statistics Canada figures published last August 2017 place the ethnic demo-lingual group in Canada at 22% of the over-all population – larger than the Francophone population, notwithstanding the billions of dollars spent at all levels of government to maintain and nurture the French language. Approximately seven million Canadians speak and function in a language other than English or French, according to Stats Canada. 6.8 million of them are among the top twenty non-Anglo, non-Franco communities. 
Given the immigration trends of the last thirty years, it is likely that at least half of that number (3.4 million) reside in Ontario. 
If you are counting, that is about 25% of the province’s citizens.
To her credit, at the Press Conference, Kathleen Wynne announced the start of a program she hopes will begin to redress a growing imbalance between resources dedicated to informing the public and the actual audience for the government programs designed and paid for by taxpayers. 
I could not find the line item in the Budget.
No concerns. The sum is relatively small: $6 million over three years, starting in September, to encourage better research, data-gathering, writing, production and distribution of consistent quality journalism that is both local and relevant. 
It is also designed help qualify third language news outlets for existing government advertising sources and other resources.
It is an encouraging, even if extremely modest and conditional, initiative. No society can sustain its standard and quality of life without a Press capable of highlighting and critiquing  the attributes that make it a magnet for capital and people.
 
 

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Mar Sun ,2017