Editors’ note: A version of this open letter originally appeared in Ricochet’s French edition. It has been translated into English.

Our media, whether they are not-for-profit, community-based, independent, or specialized, are also relieved that the government is finally acknowledging what some of us have been saying for a long time: the Quebec and Canadian media world is not doing well and market forces are playing against it.

As newsrooms empty — there have been 250 newspaper closures over the past eight years in the country — new models are emerging, whether in response to these cuts or not. Some look at the news from a specific angle, such as science or hyper-local. With reduced teams, these outlets are succeeding in fulfilling their mission: to inform the public about the issues that concern them.

We want to make sure that this committee is inclusive, ensuring a plurality of voices that reflects the reality of 21st-century journalism.

In this changing sector, as there is a fragmentation of audiences interested in specific topics that the mass media do not necessarily cover because of lack of resources, it would be a mistake to ignore this diversity. These media are not only a relevant voice for understanding the world around us but also bring their share of innovative solutions, especially if they are given help in the face of giants like Facebook and Google who have snapped up the majority of advertising revenue from the press.

Currently, the government plans to set up a committee of representatives from media outlets who will be responsible for determining which publications will be eligible for government assistance. We believe it is essential that we are also consulted on these criteria. Ignoring the voice of the media outside major media groups would ignore their real importance in the lives of citizens. We want to make sure that this committee is inclusive, ensuring a plurality of voices that reflects the reality of 21st-century journalism.

We also believe that if the criteria for the announced payroll tax credit will only apply to journalism salaries, then the definition should include independent journalists, without whom a good deal of the “general interest journalism” would not exist.

While both the federal and provincial governments have announced support for the media, we hope that this support will take into account the reality of the media today, which has a multitude of voices. At present, both the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec and the Fédération nationale des communications have committed themselves to having representatives of independent journalists and smaller media join the committee to determine the eligibility criteria for these assistance programs. It’s an invitation that we are eager to accept.

Signatories : Agence Science-Presse, Pamplemousse.ca, Journaldesvoisins.com, Ricochet Media, L’Esprit Libre, Nouveau Projet, Relations, À Bâbord!, Caribou, Reflet de société, Journal de la rue, QuartierHochelaga.com.