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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Why news should be free

September 23, 2021

We’ve all been there before. Your friend or a newspaper you follow on Facebook posts a link to an article that interests you. You click on the link and then BAM: unless you have a subscription or want to fork over a few dollars, you can’t read the article. This issue is even more frustrating when researching for a school assignment. This repeatedly happens for me when trying to read Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, and other articles from news agencies. Thankfully, this isn’t the case for every news site. The CBC, CTV, and other cable news agencies typically make their articles available for free. This is only possible because the advertising and television subscription revenues and government funding they make help to subsidize online articles without subscription costs attached.

News as a human right

I believe news and information should be free to all people as a human right. Journalists are often trained at colleges and universities, which receive public funding, on top of government grants, and subsidies afforded to news agencies to help maintain operations. This means that we, the public, have already paid a substantial amount of money to produce this news, so why shouldn’t we receive the product we helped make without paying for it again? Moreover, being an informed citizen should not be a privilege for the affluent. It should be something available for all who wish to pursue it.

Combat disinformation

There’s another reason why news should be free though. To combat disinformation. Many newspapers, like the Globe and Mail, and Toronto Star made their COVID-19 articles available for free during the height of the pandemic. This was because ensuring quality and accurate news was placed above profits, albeit temporarily. Why should we stop here though? Why isn’t news related to human rights crises abroad and domestic available for free? Why isn’t news about healthcare policy proposals available for free? We can of course access this information through CBC, CTV, and the like, but this is only one narrow viewpoint. That isn’t to say that the Toronto Star and other newspapers are perfect. They all exist in the problematic society we have today. But it isn’t a far stretch to say that these outlets are vitally important to the functioning of Canadian democracy. As such, Canadians, and people in general, should have access to the news without these restrictive paywalls. On top of this, disinformation networks like Fox News, the Daily Wire, One America News Network, Newsmax, and more make their content available for free (with perks to subscribers like ad-free podcasts). If you ask your uninformed friend or family member to do some research on a topic that you feel is very important they learn about, isn’t it scary that the disinformation and oftentimes hateful viewpoints from these outlets are usually available without any restrictions, while the more “authoritative” news usually costs money? When it comes to choosing between paying for something or getting it for free, we humans typically prefer the latter. Just look at media piracy and what it did to the music industry, movies, TV shows, books, and more. Because of that, the subscription model is now the dominant form of media consumption, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Of course, for things like entertainment, it isn’t outrageous to pay money. It’s not an essential service. But news? Just try going a week without browsing social media, reading newspapers, or watching TV news and see how much information you miss out on. 

Conclusion

News should absolutely be available to everyone as a matter of necessity without any restrictions by the way of paywalls. In the age of privatization and profits being the driver of business actions, this won’t come easy. But if we are truly to move forward to an equitable and just future, it is something we are going to have to seriously consider and decide if the fight is worth it. One that I am very confident is needed.

By Erik Allen