First, most big newspapers are political by nature. Many were started as party organs. The Globe, for instance, was the voice of George Brown's 19th-century Reform Party. Its eventual partner, The Mail, was established to promote John A. Macdonald's wing of the Conservative Party.
The Toronto Star began as a union newspaper but was soon snapped up by Toronto business interests anxious to promote the cause of Wilfrid Laurier's Liberals.
The National Post was founded as a vehicle for the muscular conservatism of its owner, Conrad Black.
Even now, media use their political stance as a marketing tool. In the United States, for instance, both the New York Times and Washington Post have found it profitable to take on Donald Trump. Attacking the president earns them digital subscriptions.
Conversely, Fox News has found it profitable to support Trump.
My guess is that as mass audiences splinter, news organizations in Canada will be under competitive pressure to become just as partisan.
There's nothing necessarily wrong with this. But partisanship does not always go well with government subsidies. Liberal MPs might well ask why they should devote money to Postmedia newspapers like the Calgary Herald that routinely oppose them. Conservative MPs could ask the same question about the Toronto Star.
Second, the government must ensure that its support for existing news media doesn't prevent new ventures from starting up. This is a particular problem in small communities that, more often than not, are serviced by newspaper chains.
Chains typically make their money by centralizing production and squeezing costs. But they have to be careful. If their product becomes too thin, a competitor might start up.
So they usually aim for a point where they spend just enough on content to maintain a local monopoly.
Government subsidies may help them reach that point more easily. But unless carefully directed, these subsidies won't necessarily encourage chains to spend more on news.
All of which is to say that putting new media subsidies into effect will require delicate footwork on the part of the government. The Conservatives are already calling the move a Liberal attempt to buy off the press. Expect more attacks.
© [Hamilton Spectator] (https://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/)