Large Publishers Beg Readers to Download Their Apps, Bookmark Their Sites

Large publishers are resorting to begging their readers to download their apps and bookmarking their site.

After Meta rejected the Canadian governments efforts to capitulate on Bill C-18, it seems that panic has really started to set for big publishing – a situation they ultimately brought on themselves.

Earlier, publishers were seen begging advertisers to “pledge” 25% of their budgets to a news sector that’s about to lose a metric tonne of their audience. The begging obviously represents an incredibly great opportunity for advertisers. I mean, what could be better than taking out advertising on a medium no one will ever see? After all, the whole point of advertising is to just throw money at legacy corporations because advertisers really are just charity operations. The last thing they want to do is put their advertisements where the audiences are, after all.

The panic by big publishing, however, is really showcasing just how much they really believe the whole talking point that the platforms will just come crawling back to them. After all, all that self-reassuring “reporting” about how it somehow managed to work out in Australia means that the same thing will just automatically happen here. So, there’s nothing to worry about, right? Well, actions, as they so often do, speak louder than words and the large media companies actions suggest that they actually know better than this self-assured nonsense of the horn of plenty being just around the corner.

There’s already some reports about whole accounts being blocked on Instagram which is a bit more extreme than just blocking posts containing news links to say the least. What’s more, Facebook recently began running ads warning that support for news links will soon be ending on that platforms as well. The ads do suggest that the news link blocking will happen sooner rather than later.

In the midst of all of that, it’s probably not a surprise seeing reports that big news publishers are now begging readers to download their apps and bookmark their webpages. Indeed, the call is quite nostalgic as it has been years since I’ve heard of a campaign by websites asking readers to bookmark their pages, but that’s exactly what is happening. For instance, the Toronto Star had this to say:

We know that many of our readers come to us via Meta and Google and there’s obviously a risk that those sources could cut off access during this tumultuous time.

To guard against that, here are the ways you can ensure you remain connected to us and continue to get all of our latest content:

  • Download The Record app for free — an easy way to follow the latest news on your mobile devices. On Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
  • Bookmark home page.
  • Sign up for The Record’s newsletters and breaking news alerts.

Probably the most hilarious part of this push is that, in the same article, the Toronto Star says that they still support the very law that is set to screw them over:

Media companies, such as Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star and Metroland Media newspapers and websites, including the Waterloo Region Record, support the law as a necessary tool to get the dominant tech giants to fairly compensate news publishers for use of their editorial content.

The level of idiocy displayed here is only matched by Rod Sims calling for the news to be censored in Canada. You know, in order to save journalism, we have to burn it all to the ground first, making sure nothing is left. There’s just no reasoning or even a hint of sensibility here. Bill C-18 supporters are completely insane at this point as they scream loudly for their own demise.

Of course, it isn’t just the Toronto Star begging readers to download the apps and bookmark their pages. The Globe and Mail is also pushing their own campaign for their readers to do the same. From their desperate plea:

Many Globe and Mail readers find our stories via search and social media. You rely on us to be a trusted and reliable source for breaking news and exclusive, independent journalism, amid the flood of algorithmically generated news feeds and hyper-partisan debate.

Although the Canadian news landscape could soon look very different, finding trustworthy content has never been more important.

If you can no longer find The Globe via search or social media (as has already happened to a small percentage of Facebook and Instagram users) there are many other ways to access our high-quality journalism, whatever your reading preference:


Visit from your phone, tablet or computer any time to see the most important stories of the day, and exclusive journalism from The Globe.

Mobile app

Our news app for iOS and Android gives readers the full range of Globe and Mail journalism, from breaking news and explainers to investigations and visual storytelling.

  • Download our iOS app for iPhone and iPad
  • Download our Android app

The thing with these campaigns is that there is exactly zero change that this replaces what benefits they get from search and social media. This is not a growth strategy. This is a strategy that is meant to stem as much bleeding as possible for when the switch is pulled. Put it another way, the media is basically throwing a life preserver in the water as their ship begins to sink while shouting how it was right and fair to sink that ship in the first place.

While this is a desperate move to save their skin, this may have marked the first time big publishing made a reasonably sound decision. All the way up until now, big publishing and the government has screwed pretty much everything up. It took the most primal of survival instincts to kick in, but the large publishing companies finally made a move in this whole debate that made sense.

Only time will tell if this one last minute panic move is enough to save their skins in this whole thing. It seems like a sure thing that, for a lot of the big publishers, they are going to get hurt by this. The question is whether this move will allow the larger publishing corporations to survive while making dramatic cuts to stay afloat or if a number will just sink anyway. To be sure, the largest players will survive because they know how to work subsidy programs or they are bankrolled by billionaires. As for the rest, the situation is looking pretty dicey.

Ultimately, moves like this tells you everything you need to know about just how confident the larger players are in things just magically working out. Sure, they may talk a big game about how the platforms are just using bullying tactics and that it will all just magically work out. The actions, however, spoke louder than the chest thumping that has been on display for the last two years.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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