Summit retrospective

News &

CMRC Chair Donna Logan addresses the Summit (CMRC).

The Importance of Valuable Content

It is not easy to be positive when considering the future of news. Across all traditional media, audiences are becoming smaller, competition is increasing, and profit margins are falling. Moreover, despite the growth in online readership, news organizations still have not been able to translate this into revenue.


Two recent CMRC studies reveal that there are signs of declining interest and increasing cynicism among audiences, and it appears that a preference for quality content may be compelling Canadians to look beyond traditional media for their news.


Our research shows that interest in the news has declined slightly in the past five years. Only about half of Canadian adults now say they are “very interested” in keeping up with the news, while only about one-third of those under 35-years-old say the same.


A lack of audience trust is prevalent in Canadian media. Only one-third of Canadians believe the news is usually fair and balanced, and at least half of them think it is becoming more of a problem. A majority of respondents agree that political bias is common in the news.

These challenges, among others, were extensively discussed at the Canadian Media Research Consortium’s (CMRC) first-ever Invitational Future of News Summit, which took place in Toronto, May 29, 2008. By bringing together many of the most important media leaders in Canada, the summit tried to highlight some of the biggest challenges facing the media industry and shed light on what may lie ahead.

New revenue models, emerging technologies and alternative news gathering approaches were discussed, but, above all, the summit’s speakers and delegates repeatedly championed one concept to be the most important in ensuring a strong and profitable Canadian news industry: quality. It is tremendously important for news organizations to provide valuable, quality content to its readers.

Over the last decades, many Canadian news organizations have been reducing the number of journalists on staff while maintaining a similar, and often broader, scope of news stories. Although there are currently more news organizations than ever, they are producing fewer stories that take place outside of their immediate community, and are increasingly relying on outside news agencies to fill in the rest.  

When an increasing amount of news organizations are providing a smaller number of stories, questions concerning journalistic quality and value are bound to arise. Across Canada and the Western world, as news organizations deal with new approaches to cutting costs, their commitment to provide valuable, quality content is often the first to go.

In no other industry could this be possible. As one summit speaker said, it is in the interests of media organizations to provide content that is of value for the money and time spent by the consumers. Quality involves generating consumer trust and creating consumer loyalty.  As it is in any industry, there clearly exists a correlation between quality and long-term revenue, several speakers argued.

The Summit concluded that unless the news industry does not soon grasp this concept and immediately begin creating more valuable, quality content, the news industry in Canada will be unable to provide a sustainable business model that will ensure a healthy news industry, which is vital to a vibrant democracy.


Summit Speakers


Eric Alterman, termed "the most honest and incisive media critic writing today", is a distinguished professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and professor of journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He is also author of "the smartest and funniest political journal out there", in the San Francisco Chronicle and a frequent lecturer and contributor to numerous publications in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. His latest article from The New Yorker, Out of Print: The death and life of the American newspaper, has attracted widespread attention for its honest portrait of the newspaper industry and the future of journalism. 


Colette Brin is associate professor at the Département d’information et de communication, Université Laval. A former journalist with experience in radio, TV and print media, Dr. Brin’s research focuses on the sociology of journalism and media institutions. Her current projects include studies of economic journalism; the influence of convergence on news content; media credibility; and a history of television news in Quebec.


Leonard Brody is co-founder and CEO of NowPublic, one of the pioneers in citizen generated news that is rapidly becoming one of the largest news agencies in the world with over 130,000 contributing reporters in 140 countries and 4,500 cities. In the last year, The Guardian in London ranked NowPublic as one of top five news sites in the world, and Time Magazine named it as one of the top 50 Web sites of the year.


Peter Desbarats is a Montreal, Quebec-born Canadian author, playwright and journalist. He is the former dean of journalism at the University of Western Ontario (1981-1997), a former commissioner in the Somalia Inquiry and a former Maclean-Hunter chair of communications ethics at Ryerson University.


Fred Fletcher is university professor emeritus, communication studies and political science, York University, the author of many studies of the news media in Canada, including The Newspaper and Public Affairs, and one of the founding researchers of the Canadian Internet Project (a partner in the World Internet Project).  He is past president of the Canadian Media Research Consortium.


Donna Logan is president of the Canadian Media Research Consortium and founding director of the Graduate School of Journalism at UBC.  She is also a professor emerita of UBC.  Prior to joining UBC, she worked as a print and broadcast journalist, holding several senior executive positions at CBC, among them vice-president of CBC Radio networks.


Neil McIntosh is head of editorial development for The Guardian website:  A former print journalist, he joined the site in 2004 and has been responsible for the rollout of the site’s blogs and award-winning range of audio and video services.  He speaks regularly on innovation in journalism in Europe and the U.S. and blogs at


Robert G. Picard, professor of media economics and director of the Media Management and Transformation Centre at Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping University, Sweden, is author and editor of 22 books, including The Economics and Financing of Media Companies, The Internet and the Mass Media, and Media Firms: Structure, Operations, and Performance. He is editor of the Journal of Media Business Studies and was previously editor of The Journal of Media Economics.


Michael Rogers is a leading international expert on the impact of technology on business and society, he is futurist-in-residence for the New York Times Company, as well an interactive media pioneer, novelist and journalist. He also writes the popular Practical Futurist column for MSNBC.  Previously he was vice president of The Washington Post's new media division, as well as editor and general manager of


Jan Schaffer is former business editor and a Pulitzer Prize winner for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She is now executive director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism and one of the nation’s leading thinkers in the journalism reform movement. She left daily journalism in 1994 to lead pioneering journalism initiatives in the areas of civic journalism, interactive and participatory journalism and citizen media ventures.


Mary Lynn Young, director at the UBC School of Journalism, is an award-winning academic, university educator and newspaper columnist.  She has worked as an editor, national business columnist and senior crime reporter at major daily newspapers in Canada and the United States.


Senior Executive Panel


Phil Lind, Vice-Chairman, Rogers Communication Incorporated

David Asper, Executive-Vice-President, CanWest Global Communications Corporation 

John Cruickshank, Publisher, CBC News


Organizing and Advisory Committee

(In alphabetical order:)

Gene Allen, Board Member, CMRC-CCRM and Director, Master of Journalism Program, Ryerson University

Colette Brin, Professor, Département d'information et de communication, Universtié   Laval

Leonard Brody, Co-founder and CEO, NowPublic

Jeffrey Dvorkin, Executive Director of Journalism, The Real News Network

Pierre Delagrave, President, Cossette Media and Fjord Interactive Marketing and Technology

Peter Desbarats, Former Dean, Graduate Program in Journalism, University of Western Ontario

Fred Fletcher, Former Chair, CMRC-CCRM, and University Professor Emeritus, Communication Studies and Political Science, York University

Glenn Garnett, Executive Editor-in-Chief, Sun Media Corp.

Darlene Haber, President and Executive Producer, MediaVision

Alfred Hermida, Associate Professor, UBC Graduate School of Journalism

Pierre Juneau, Former CRTC Chair and Former CBC President

Darryl Korell, Research Co-ordinator, Canadian Media Research Consortium

Paul Knox, Chair, School of Journalism, Ryerson University

Kirk LaPointe, Managing Editor, The Vancouver Sun and Member, Advisory Council, CMRC/CCRM

Robert Lewis, Vice-President, Content Development, Rogers Communications Inc.

Donna Logan, Chair, CMRC/CCRM, Founding Director, School of Journalism and     Professor Emerita, University of British Columbia

Trina McQueen, CTV Professor of Broadcast Management, Schulich School of Business, York University


Eric Morrison, President, Canadian Press

André Préfontaine, Publisher, Canadian Geographic

Philip Savage, Assistant Professor, Communications Studies, McMaster University

Florian Sauvageau, Vice Chair, CMRC-CCRM and Director, Centre d'études sur les médias

Scott White, Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Press

Kaan Yigit, Founder and President, Solutions Research Group Consultants

Mary Lynn Young, Director, Graduate School of Journalism, University of British Columbia


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