Facilitating communication and promoting a culture of innovation

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 11/07/2016

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The following is excerpted from Newspapers Canada's full submission, which is attached.

In May 2016, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, wrote in the Toronto Star that we need to “get to a place where ‘innovation’ is thought of as a core Canadian value.” He has stated that “talent” is a key theme of the Innovation Agenda: we have to focus on creating an environment that develops more Canadian innovators as well as attracts global talent.

Canadian newspapers play a critical role in fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by creating a foundation to communicate, educate, and shape opinions. Communication is a key character of an innovative society because it creates new ideas as well as further develop existing ideas. In addition to encouraging communication, newspapers effectively provide a window to the world and present information about the needs of employers, innovators, and entrepreneurs in order to develop and recruit the best talent.

The news media, because of its diverse platforms -- including print, web, phone, and tablet -- are the most effective at reaching all groups; they attract younger generations with digital platforms, while reaching older generations and rural communities through print. Research shows that 9 out of 10 Canadian adults read a newspaper in print, online or mobile format every week. Consequently, advertisements in news media have proven to be extremely successful. A study on media influence on automobile purchase found that 60% of new car buyers are influenced by newspapers—the highest percentage of all advertising media.

The number of social entrepreneurs may be a good measure of the innovativeness of a society, because it shows how many people are thinking creatively to solve pressing issues. A creative, proactive culture inevitably develops entrepreneurs who at once confront problems and help the economy. Social entrepreneurship is a culture cultivated and promoted through the sharing of stories—newspapers, as storytellers that are effective at making information readily accessible to all groups, encourage it.

The story of WE (formerly Free the Children)—a global non-profit organization based in Canada that focuses on youth empowerment and engagement, poverty alleviation, and education—shows the crucial role the news media has played in the development of this successful social enterprise. This international movement started because a newspaper article inspired a child: Craig Kielburger of Ontario, then 12 years old, came across a Toronto Star article on child labour and felt compelled to start a movement at school. Now a Major 100 charity in Canada, WE came to life because of a story presented by a newspaper.

Newspapers also inspire people by highlighting and honouring those that are engaged in social entrepreneurship. By learning about innovators who have paved the path, many ordinary citizens become empowered to become change-makers themselves. Therefore, newspapers create a chain effect: by presenting primary information (e.g. child labour in Pakistan), it creates social entrepreneurs, who in turn create more social entrepreneurs, often by using newspaper platforms.

In order to promote communication and information exchange we need a strong Canadian newspaper sector – supported by advertisers.  In this regard, the Canadian government should expand its use of newspapers as a vehicle for its own advertisements. In 2014-15, the government only spent 6.5% of its advertising budget on weeklies/community newspapers and a meager 0.7% on dailies/national newspapers. The government should not rely too heavily on a single medium for information and knowledge dissemination, and use to its advantage the power of newspaper media in reaching across age groups and regions.

The government should also encourage Canadian companies to spend their advertising dollars in newspapers and other local media. Encouraging Canadian businesses to support their fellow Canadian businesses would help the economy; the government could provide incentives—such as tax credits, or penalties for using foreign firms—for companies to increase their newspaper advertisement spending.

 

 

Credit: Newspapers Canada

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