A healthy democracy depends on a plurality of voices and an abundant supply of civic engagement. Local media are critical in ensuring accountability of positions in power. If people are not informed, then they cannot make decisions about their communities or leaders.

For people to participate in their communities, they need to be informed and understand major issues and initiatives such as land development proposals, transportation plans, or the opening of a new hospital wing, and whether those making decisions are being held accountable.

News media are vital for helping Canadians keep on top of news and events in their communities. You help people know and understand information that matters to them and their country, and make them more informed. You hold governments and civic institutions accountable by being present in the community, digging for the truth and keeping your readers informed.

Civic journalism is the key. It is vital to society—and yet, there isn’t enough of it.

A decade of technological disruption has transformed how news is delivered and made it challenging for audiences to identify credible news sources. Newsrooms are stretched to their limits and have to make difficult decisions on what issues they can and cannot cover. Still others have reached a point where they cannot continue, leaving communities without a local news source.

But that could change.

In 2019, the federal government recognized the detrimental effect these changes can have on democracy and launched the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) to support the industry.

The Initiative aims to revitalize portions of the industry where resources are threadbare, and where civic journalism is under threat, or simply non-existent.

The Local Journalism Initiative strengthens local coverage of civic institutions such as courthouses, city halls, band councils, school boards and provincial legislatures, port authorities or transportation boards, in communities where there is limited access to civic journalism or significant gaps in coverage because of lack of capacity.

The LJI provides funding for news media to hire reporters to cover civic institutions and issues in underserved communities.

News Media Canada is currently accepting applications from English news media in Ontario, French news media in Quebec, and Indigenous news media across the country. The application deadline is January 27, 2020. The program is open to existing Canadian-owned English, French, and Indigenous print and digital news media organizations.

To apply or to learn more about News Media Canada’s LJI program, visit the LJI website at www.localjournalisminitiative.ca or contact us at lji@newsmediacanada.ca.