The relationship between newswires and press release distribution services plays a critical role in journalism and in sharing trusted news information with audiences around the world.
For over 15 years, Intrado Digital Media's GlobeNewswire and The Canadian Press (CP) have enjoyed a unique partnership: press releases distributed by GlobeNewswire on behalf of thousands of clients are delivered directly into newsroom editorial systems and to the desktops of journalists at almost 700 media outlets served by CP across Canada.
The benefit to companies and organizations issuing press releases with GlobeNewswire is that their news and announcements are easily accessible to CP journalists across the country. As editors and reporters are researching companies and topics and writing news stories, they can easily access GlobeNewswire-distributed press releases without having to search through other databases or feeds.
For CP journalists, this means they can efficiently monitor press releases for relevant and newsworthy information from public and private companies, non-profit agencies, and the government. GlobeNewswire press releases provide a steady stream of information to CP journalists, from financial announcements to product announcements and breaking-news updates. In an era of fake news, press releases also provide a straight-from-source information that is verifiable.
What’s the history of The Canadian Press? How have they kept pace with the ever-changing news cycle, and how do journalists source their stories? We were fortunate to have an opportunity to speak with Gerry Arnold, Executive Editor at The Canadian Press. Gerry has spent his entire professional career working in Canadian journalism.
Born and educated in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he began his career with The Chronicle-Herald. After joining The Canadian Press, he worked as a parliamentary correspondent, Prairie bureau chief and Ottawa bureau chief. More recently as an executive editor in Toronto, his duties have included oversight of content partnerships, business development and government relations.
Gerry was generous enough to chat with us and offer his insight into The Canadian Press, its role in Canada’s media landscape and how 2020 has affected the way we consume news.
Keep scrolling to read the the full interview and be sure to watch our video!
For people unfamiliar with The Canadian Press, can you explain its role in the media landscape and how it influences the way Canadians consume the news?
Gerry: The Canadian Press is Canada’s only independent national news agency, operating in both official languages with more than 180 journalists producing real-time multimedia content including text, audio, video, images and interactive graphics.
Unlike virtually every other media organization in Canada, CP has no business-to-consumer relationships. We are a content wholesaler, helping our customers power their own digital, broadcast and print properties with our storytelling and services.
Every day, millions of Canadians consume our news via our clients’ newspapers, magazines, radio and TV newscasts, websites, company blogs, social channels, digital signage screens and more, as we produce approximately
- 350,000 articles per year
- 230,000 images and graphics per year
- 110,000 video and audio clips per year
We do not carry or sell advertising, and we don’t directly compete for reader or viewer traffic. The absence of a consumer-facing suite of products makes CP the industry’s “honest broker,” where media brands rely on us to help shape their coverage that keeps Canadians informed 24/7.
For more than 100 years, our reputation for being fast, fair and accurate has meant our customers rely on us to:
- Help set the news agenda and curate the top stories
- Save them time because they use our content “as is” or as background for their own stories
- Cover the core national stories, so their staff can focus on local angles and exclusives;
- Be there when it matters, when stories break in hard-to-reach locations or during times when newsrooms have little to no staff
CP is renowned for the excellence of its award-winning journalism and our brand is critical to adding a credible and powerful voice to the work of our clients.
When did CP get started and how does it differ from other national news agencies in the U.S., Europe and Asia - such as AP and Reuters?
Gerry: CP has existed since 1917 and was originally enacted as a co-operative, allowing daily newspapers to exchange stories and incorporated by an act of Parliament to deliver news of the First World War to Canadians.
Over time, CP evolved as Canada grew and technology demanded new solutions, from adding French content, a picture service, a broadcast arm, digital news and more.
We are no longer a co-operative, converting in 2010 to a private company owned by Torstar, The Globe and Mail and La Presse. We remain editorially independent and operate newsrooms in every part of Canada.
The Associated Press, an American news co-operative and the world’s largest and oldest news agency, is CP’s most important strategic partner. CP enjoys a long-standing reciprocal relationship with the AP – we are the exclusive distributor of its content in Canada, and the AP enjoys a similar privilege with CP content in the U.S. and many parts of the world.
Reuters is a critical piece of the Thomson Reuters information conglomerate that delivers financial and business information to decision makers. Like AP, their focus is international, whereas CP’s focus is domestic Canadian news, complemented by AP’s world coverage. Unlike CP, both AP and Reuters run consumer-facing news sites and apps.
Can you explain how The Canadian Press secures its news content? How does this work?
Gerry: Domestically, CP generates all its own news. When we were a co-operative, our member newspapers contributed stories for us to redistribute, but that ended a decade ago.
CP uses a range of tools to stay abreast of news in real time, including:
- Proactively using our own staff to research, break and develop news;
- Monitoring local radio and television for top stories across Canada; and,
- Monitoring news releases from our partners such as GlobeNewswire for relevant and newsworthy information from corporate, governmental, NGO and non-profit entities.
It’s a big job that requires paying attention to a constantly shifting set of priorities, with literally thousands of decisions being made in real time every day across all our editorial desks.
From breaking news to developing stories to elections, sports, entertainment, business and more, CP is well positioned to cover Canada, with bureaus and correspondents in:
What role do press releases play in disseminating critically important news from organizations?
Gerry: The truthful answer is that it depends on what is going on and who is speaking through the press release. Not every press release is going to generate a story and press releases fired into an information tornado on a busy day may not register.
As an example, the day of the federal budget, everyone has an opinion on the budget. Every provincial government. The opposition. National, provincial and municipal business leaders. Hundreds of voices trying to be heard and we keep an objective eye on press releaseses to see if they have anything to add to the story. Some of those have primary usefulness – information from an important source we might use right away. Others may have secondary usefulness – a hook for a next-day story, or even a next-week story or a regional piece away from Ottawa. And many others will never be used in a story by CP.
Has CP seen a shift in what media outlets are looking for and if so, what and how has this impacted the stories CP covers?
Gerry: Over the past 10-15 years, the appetite for personal finance and health stories has grown in synchrony with all kind of tools enabling individualized decision making and increased activism. The interest in public education campaigns about these topics has therefore grown in step. Media are looking for what’s “hot” or “cool” with these news tools that will help their readers be more educated and empowered in their day to day decisions and activities. Media outlest are therefore looking for tangible tools and information that will help their readers achieve this goal.
Media are also looking for content rich press releases which provide access to images and videos, including B-roll. Media will not cover some stories without a stock photo or video, and can’t always dispatch a photographer for every story. This is especially true in the tech sector. Even if an image is not used immediately, it gets archived for possible use in the future. Access to stock photos and videos of lobster fishing in Nova Scotia during the recent conflict between Mi'kmaw (Indigenous) fishermen and non-Indigenous fishermen would have been very valuable for example.
This year, specifically, with regards to the pandemic, the demand was for all pandemic, all the time. And in late March and April, that was an easy call because literally everything else stopped, outside of breaking news.
Into May and June, a “new normal” settled in and our coverage reflected the efforts to work around the pandemic in a variety of corners of our lives. Schools, industry, business, and government all struggled to find a way to provide services.
The hospitality industry particularly has been front and center for consumers of news and information because outside of home, it is a tangible example of how life has changed.
And of course, the economic fallout will continue to be a major story for literally years. Millions of people have lost their jobs. And the long view of that has many angles to cover. Tax revenues have plummeted, reducing the ability of governments to repay the accumulating deficits they are relying on to support Canadians through the crisis, or even pay for current services like transit, police and EMS.
On a household level, things like saving for retirement and post-secondary education have, for many people, simply stopped. The implications of that won’t be felt for years, but it will have an impact. Things like the demand on food banks, social counselling services and other issues of wellness are examples of some of the major stories that media outlets are looking for.
How has the work changed for CP journalists this year given the global pandemic?
Gerry: We are working remotely and continue to have our daily news meetings, they are simply conducted by video conference instead of in person. We still make the same value judgments as in the past.
One office, Halifax, has partially reopened – and our staff have worked hard to evolve to the reality of remote news gathering in many circumstances, but not all.
Photographers still go out and get images where the news is. And while we were very cautious in the early weeks of the pandemic, we have a better understanding now of how to manage risk, effectively use PPE and current public health advice to keep staff safe.
For reporters covering certain types of news – government and business news conferences, for example – the transition has been straight forward.
For many breaking news stories – like the deadly shooting spree in Nova Scotia in the spring – reporters were outside talking to people, knocking on doors, and doing the legwork. Some things can’t be done from your home office.
The “bubble” approach taken in sports has limited our access to venues, but efforts are made to make athletes and team staff available on video conferencing tools.
Webcasting has also made it easier for our team to connect with and report on local stories that matter to those communities. Our ability to have face-to-face interactions with individuals in remote areas enables our team to ask questions that impact the community we are reporting on and cover more angles. Since news annoucements are often taking place at the same time, we can also now watch the archived meetings/webcasts and develop more comprehensive stories than in the past.
It’s been a learning experience.
If you’d like to learn more about GlobeNewswire and The Canadian Press, click here.