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I am off again for work.

Lisa Sygutek

Mar 13, 2024

I’m flying to Toronto early next week, after I try to get most of the paper ready for print, to attend a lawsuit in which I am the representative plaintiff.

I am off again for work. This time I’m flying to Toronto early next week, after I try to get most of the paper ready for print, to attend a lawsuit in which I am the representative plaintiff, on behalf of all Canadian newspapers, in a class action lawsuit against Goggle and Facebook.

The following is a brief explanation of the lawsuit … “Sotos Class Actions of Toronto has issued a statement of claim against Google and Facebook on behalf of the Crowsnest Pass Herald, a community newspaper that serves the Crowsnest Pass area of southwest Alberta. The class action claims damages of four billion dollars against the two tech companies, alleging that Google and Facebook entered into an agreement that allowed them to benefit financially at the expense of other digital publishers.”

“The statement of claim alleges the two companies engaged in a conspiracy to rig online advertisement auctions, allocate markets, and fix and maintain prices in the market for display advertising, contrary to the Competition Act. It further alleges that publishers and advertisers suffered significant damages as a result.”

This lawsuit is two years in the making. You are probably wondering why I am the plaintiff. The short answer is they asked, and I said yes!

I’m doing this for many reasons. First and foremost, I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do. Our family has owned this little newspaper for over 70 years, and I have been in this industry for twenty-five of them. I have watched our revenues drop. I have watched a thriving business of eight people, forced to reduce to four. I have watched newspapers all over this country shut down; hundred-year-old newspapers. I have watched good reporters move onto other careers because the papers just can’t afford to pay them top salary for top notch work. I have watched our industry take a knee to the social media giants, for the sake of meagre profits they give. It’s as if the industry has been broken to the point where they have no fight left. I’m doing this because someone had to!

I have wondered why I still produce this paper. I produce it because I fundamentally see the value of a community newspaper. I look at the quote by Ken Allred beside this editorial and it makes me cry. Newspapers are the diary of a community, both in photos and print. At its most basic level, the local newspaper is the check and balance to local government. The information reported within its pages allows you, the reader, to make informed decisions.

A few weeks ago, we had a front-page story about the Crowsnest River drying up. The amount of calls we received, both positive and negative, shows us that people are reading our paper. We published a story and people started the conversation. We even went a step further and did a follow-up story as a means of giving the reader the other side of the issue. My point is the story was read.

Alongside this editorial you see rebuttal letters from two of our readers. I love it! They read the story and they we so moved that they commented in writing. It’s the role of the paper to force you to think.

So, I’m off next week to fight for newspapers across this big country. It’s a David and Goliath fight, but as most of you know, I’m not one to back down from any fight. My mother taught me better than to cave in to pressure.

Although we may win a settlement, for me this is more about forcing Goggle and Facebook to change the way they do business and create a level playing field across this country. I am trying to fight for what many in my industry have lost, their ability to feel the power of the press and our pride. I did it because someone had to!

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