（大中报/096.ca特稿）：这一微信张贴于上周二，出现在我的多个微信群中：“转发省议员Vincent Ke朋友圈发布的信息。好消息, 刚才省长在机场这边召开一个少数族裔的媒体招待会。宣布以后省里也会给少数族裔媒体拨款。”
"I am writing to tell the good news that MPP Vincent Ke announced at an ethnic media reception near the airport that Ontario would provide funding to assist ethnic media," the post appeared in several of my WeChat groups on last Tuesday.
This news can make anyone in the crisis-stricken ethnic media industry thrilled, and catch them by surprise, particularly at a time when the rapidly expanding digital giants have increasingly threatened the survivability of ethnic media that struggles in a shrinking niche market.
But the information provided in the WeChat post seems sketchy. A brief Google search led me to Ontario Greats, which listed all a few programs funded by the Ontario government that have survived the sweeping cuts – including funding programs to the magazine and book publishing industry.
I emailed the program coordinator of Ontario Greats on Wednesday, seeking more detailed information about the funding programs announced by Mr. Ke, such as how to select media outlets for the funding, which Ministry is in charge, and how much funding it can get.
Ontario Greats quickly responded to my inquiries through an email. Apart from suggesting me to subscribe to its newsletters, it also directed me to the MPP's website for direct answers.
I wasted no time and emailed Mr. Ke's office on Thursday morning, with the list of questions regarding the funding program. But I had heard nothing back by the end of the business day.
I started to become suspicious about the WeChat post. At the time when Ontario government funding cuts have clogged the news feed, direct funding to the media industry, particularly an industry with overcrowded players sounds too good to be true.
Just a few days earlier, I received a phone call from a telemarketer saying the Ontario government will provide funding to homeowners to have their appliances repaired at no costs of their own. I smelled fishy immediately.
Was the WeChat post fake news gone viral? I emailed MPP Ke's office again on Friday afternoon, asking if the MPP announced the program at "an ethnic media reception near the airport." I also stressed in the email that the MPP office has a responsibility to work with media to stop fake news from spreading. A few hours later, Christina Liu (who did not specify her job title at the MPP office) responded by saying the MPP was at the meeting for the day, but she will clarify with him as soon as he becomes available.
Around 8 PM, Liu's second email arrived. She clarified that the announcement wasn't made by MPP Ke but by Premier Ford. And it wasn't direct funding to ethnic media but through an advertising campaign—which has been criticized for lacking fairness and transparency for years.
"Premier Ford hosted a cultural media reception on Jan. 20, 2020, to appreciate your hard work and contribution to our multicultural society". Liu wrote in the email." He also spoke about government advertising funding. In the future, not just the mainstream media, but also ethnic press will have access to the government advertisement funding. "
"The (WeChat) posting had been done by one staffer from our office. I apologize if it caused any confusion," she added.
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