Jeff Elgie on the Google deal and his fight to save local news
This week on WONK host Edward Greenspon talks to Jeff Elgie, the CEO of Village Media Inc. For the past 10 years, Elgie has been steadily building a thriving and profitable local news business from his home base in Sault Ste Marie, Ont. At a time when other news organizations fall into decline and disappear from the map, Village Media has expanded into 25 communities — and counting.
Elgie has been fast off the mark, and at times cheeky. He went into Guelph within 10 days of Torstar ceasing publication of the Guelph Mercury in 2016. When the editor-in-chief and a reporter of Queen’s Park Briefing quit over editorial interference, Jeff immediately scooped them up and created The Trillium, a departure from his local, ad-supported model.
In building Village Media, Elgie has wound up at the centre of one of the most important debates of the digital news era: how to effectively sustain journalism and, by extension, the strength of our democratic fabric, without the kind of over-reach by government that could do more harm than good.
In this episode, Elgie describes his opposition to the controversial Online News Act, what he thinks of the recent $100 million-agreement with Google and what motivates him to keep fighting for local news.
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