We also think government can play a useful role in the non-profit world, which can play a crucial role itself in public interest reporting and public education. This is, of course, distinct from public broadcasters such as the CBC and its public broadcasting counterparts, including Ontario's TVO. The CAJ believes Canada should embrace non-profit journalism as other countries, including the United States, already do.
To cherry-pick just one example from many, ProPublica is a charitable organization south of the border that counts itself as one among many so-called 501(c)(3) non-profits. That's a reference to section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, and it allows qualifying organizations tax-exempt status for the purposes of, among other goals, public education.
Now, that doesn't mean transforming local reporters into civics teachers, though we certainly find ourselves playing that role from time to time in our communities. ProPublica describes its investigative reporting as work that “shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.” It's not exactly the sort of thing you'll find in an elementary school classroom, but it's certainly as valuable.
Non-profit journalism does exist in Canada. The Walrus Foundation, the Tyee Solutions Society and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network all operate as charities, and with success. They've proven that charities can fund journalism.
But there are far fewer examples in Canada than there are elsewhere in the world. The Knight Foundation in the U.S. and trust-backed The Guardian in the U.K. are but two examples of journalism-focused philanthropic initiatives that simply have no equal in Canada. Non-profit media organizations have created compelling, groundbreaking stories that educate and inform their audiences about how their society works. Civic education is lacking in Canada, and while non-profit journalism isn't a panacea for this problem, any government action to create and foster a friendly business environment to invest in these organizations can only help enable more of them to get started and flourish.
The more media outlets, whether traditional, mainstream, online, etc., that operate in Canada, the more informed our residents will be, and that will only strengthen our democracy.
Thank you for your time today.