Hub Dialogue

Have Canadians lost their media literacy skills? The Logic’s David Skok discusses journalism in the digital age

A man wearing face mask, reads Le Monde newspaper in the Luxembourg garden next the French Senate building seeing in background, in Paris, France, Monday, March 14, 2022. Francois Mori/AP Photo.

This episode of Hub Dialogues features host Sean Speer in conversation with David Skok, the CEO and editor-in-chief of The Logic, a fast-growing online media site dedicated to journalism on innovation and technology, about the state of the news media in Canada and its future in the digital age.

You can listen to this episode of Hub Dialogues on Acast, Amazon, Apple, Google, Spotify, or YouTube. A transcript of the episode is available below.

Transcripts of our podcast episodes are not fully edited for grammar or spelling.

SEAN SPEER: Welcome to Hub Dialogues, I’m your host, Sean Speer, editor-at-large at The Hub. I’m honoured to be joined today by David Skok, the founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of The Logic, a fast-growing media site dedicated to journalism on technology and innovation. David has a long track record in the world of media and journalism, including as associate editor of the Toronto Star, managing editor and vice president of digital for the Boston Globe, and director of digital for Global News. Let me say that I know a few people who thought more critically about the news media and its future.

I’m grateful to speak with David today about some of these questions. Thanks for joining me. 

DAVID SKOK: Thanks for having me. 

SEAN SPEER: Let’s start with some questions about The Logic itself. You started The Logic in 2018, with a working hypothesis that the market would support high-quality journalism, based on your observations of industry trends in the United States and elsewhere. Do you want to elaborate on these underlying assumptions, how they may differ from others as players in the sector, and how has your hypothesis has borne out thus far?

DAVID SKOK: Sure. Well, just first on the business model side, and then I’ll talk about The Logic itself and what we cover. On the business model, you’re right, I had come back from working in Boston, and noticed that Canadians weren’t quite ready to pay for high-quality journalism. There had been a bit of a gap in the market relative to other places. There’s a study that comes out every year from the Reuters Institute at Oxford that looks at the delta between people’s willingness to pay across different countries, and Canada had always indexed really low there relative to our peers, both in the United States and particularly in the Nordic countries. And the bet for The Logic was that people would, we would close that gap, and I think that’s been proven successful. 

You see way more people now willing to pay for journalism; a rising tide lifts all boats, whether that’s us, the Globe and Mail, Bloomberg, you know, so that’s been a successful part of the business, building out that subscription business. The Logic itself comes out of, really, an economic curiosity. You look at Canada’s ongoing transformation from a resource economy to a knowledge economy. And I felt that there wasn’t really a business journalism outlet covering that transformation. So, if you take away—and you know this Sean better than I do—if you take away, if you look at GDP, and you take away housing, and you take away energy, there’s not much GDP growth left. 

And so, The Logic was a bet on covering whatever that other piece would become, and so, that’s where we’ve devoted our resources to covering Canada’s transformation from a resource economy to a knowledge-based economy, whether that be in EV/AV supply chains, whether that be in digital currency, digital policy, and we now have six bureaus across the country. We’re a national newsroom across the country, everywhere from Vancouver to Halifax; we have a team of 20. And as you said, a fast-growing journalism enterprise. 

SEAN SPEER: How do you stay disciplined, David, and not chase issues and stories outside of your mission at The Logic? It seems to me that the larger market would be covering day-to-day politics or cultural trends or whatever. Do you want to just talk a bit about how you’ve remained steadfastly committed to this mission of reporting on issues of innovation and technology?

DAVID SKOK: Yeah, when we started The Logic, we really had three main criteria for what our goals were. The first was to make Canada a better place to live and work by facilitating hard conversations. It’s my view as a journalist of 25 years that you don’t facilitate hard conversations by engaging in the conversations yourself, which, you know, opinion journalism tends to do. So, I felt strongly early on that we weren’t going to have opinions on The Logic. We don’t write columns. I write the only column with The Logic. But we don’t have guest columnists, we don’t write hot takes on the political news of the day. We focus on deep reporting. So, the first thing was how do you make Canada a better place to live and work? By facilitating those hard conversations. 

The second goal we had was to really be a tip of the spear in terms of showing Canadian journalism that there was a path forward for our sector and for journalism more broadly. You know, when we started in 2018, most of the conversation was about the death of journalism, about the tailspin of layoffs, and buyouts and hiring freezes that we were all so tired of doing. I’ve spent most of my career sitting there with a red pen having to make those hard decisions. And we wanted to show that, in fact, you can build a viable sustainable journalism product based on high-quality work. 

And the third thing we wanted to do was really create a space where the journalists themselves were the primary marker of our product. In other industries, we cover technology, the engineers or the talent, and the engineers are treated like the talent. Whereas in journalism, for the first two decades of my career, the journalists were the afterthought in many ways, and it was the business around them that was supportive. 

So, for us, we really tried to adopt more of what Cirque du Soleil tried to do back in the day, what HBO tried to do back in the day, which was support the creatives by giving them the time and space and hopefully the resources they needed to do their jobs. And in doing so, that’s allowed us to stay true to that vision and that purpose, with those three goals in mind, from an editorial perspective, not swinging to the news of the day. It’s both a beautiful business imperative as well as a journalistic one because we rely on scarcity, not commoditization of news. 

How do you differentiate yourself in a market where there are so many outlets writing about the news of the day? Well, you have to do things that simply cannot get anywhere else. And at times, that creates more pressure for our team, because, you think it would be liberating, but at times, it’s actually more pressure, because you have to break news. You know, we only report on things that we can report on ourselves, we also go through immense fact-checking and editing. It’s really about high-quality work, and that’s how we supported it. And it’s very much in the incentive structure of our business is to retain that discipline, not to get distracted by the shiny toys.

SEAN SPEER: David, it seems to me that some of the most successful—and success defined by eyeballs and profits—media sites on the web tend to have a particular ideological perspective. I’m thinking, for instance, of conservative sites like The Federalist in the United States, or its various left-wing counterparts around the world. Did you consider adopting a particular ideological view for The Logic? And do you think it could be more successful if The Logic opted to lean one way or the other? 

DAVID SKOK: Well, you know, when you talk about success, it tends to be fleeting in a lot of ways. When you do ideological journalism, you may be a success. I mean, I’m thinking of in your world, the National Review was a huge success back in the day, and I’m not sure if it’s necessarily still today. Not to pick on them specifically—Harper’s any other one—were trying to build a news brand that will last 125 years. We’re going up against quality news brands that have been around, like the Financial Times, for that long. 

And so, for us, it just makes sense that that, you know, high-quality work is a non-partisan view. The other thing I would say is I am not a political person; I have spent my entire career in journalism. I was born in South Africa and left South Africa when I was ten, which was old enough to know what a country without a free press is like. And my motivations, as founder, are to do great journalism, because I think it’s really important for democracy to have great journalism. I’ve seen what happens when countries lose that important institution. 

And so, the motivation for starting The Logic wasn’t to push a certain agenda. It wasn’t to have an ego and have influence in Ottawa or Washington, wherever. It was purely about showing and supporting great journalism, because I believe that as the fourth estate, we serve a vital function in this wonderful country, and we need to protect it. And so, that is the motivation. There are days when people think we are very left-leaning, there are days when people think we are very right-leaning. But that’s just because we’re asking questions of those that have the money and power, and holding them to account.

SEAN SPEER: Well, that’s great context about The Logic and the work that you’re doing. You talked a bit about the state of the fourth estate. Let’s talk about that. Now, there’s a lot of debate in Ottawa and elsewhere about the role of government in supporting legacy media. What’s your perspective on these questions?

DAVID SKOK: It would be easy for me to dismiss the arguments across all sides as being self-serving and ideological, and I just fundamentally, I don’t think it’s that simple. This is a very complicated issue. My view has always been against government support of journalism. I believe that in providing government direct support, we foresaw many of the concerns of those of us who voiced them that’s now happening—which is rhetoric, political rhetoric, that is aimed at discrediting the institutions of a free press. And that was easily predicted when you go down this path. 

The problem is, once you go down this, and I should also point out, I proposed other—it wasn’t just that I said, “I’m against government subsidies.” There were other ways and other measures we could have taken at the time. I wrote a column outlining seven ways to bail out the news. One of the ideas was government procurement, judge us based on our merit, just like you do in technology. When you’re trying to help an industry thrive, you know, if something is worth paying for, then government should pay for it, just like it is any other product. And if it’s not worth paying for, then don’t pay for it. But that was one way. 

Another way was to create a fund, a legal defense fund for journalism organizations to be able to tap into, so not actually directly subsidizing journalism but providing a vehicle through which anybody who considers himself doing an act of journalism could tap into to support one of the biggest expenses of news gathering, which is funding those legal challenges, to get access to information. 

The other thing I proposed was improving our access to information laws and accountability, which as you know, Sean, is one of the weakest in the world. Canada consistently gets low rankings for our inability to provide access to information. And another one was, without opening Pandora’s box here, the CBC. These conversations, often when we talk about supporting and subsidizing media, the CBC always tends to be a separate conversation outside of this. And if anything, I think there is a government entity that is getting a billion dollars in subsidy a year. How can you have this conversation without including the CBC in it? Anyway, nevertheless, the subsidies happened, and I think as soon as that happened, what gets lost is some outlets have decided to stand on principle and not accept any government money. And that is within their right, absolutely. 

The challenge is you’re competing in a competitive marketplace. I run a for-profit company, and I have a fiduciary duty to our investors and our shareholders to compete on a level playing field. And so, once that money was being allocated out, or once those tax credits were being allocated out to many of our competitors, I felt strongly that we had no choice but to take whatever we could to keep the playing fields as fair as possible. 

And so, it may seem like a hypocritical position, and some have said that about my position. But generally speaking, I’ve consistently been against it. I still say I’m against it, and as the U.S. is going through this process right now, I’ve written a little bit in U.S. publications about being against it. But once the genie’s out of the bottle, it turns into a different conversation as a CEO about what we need to do to stay competitive for talent in the marketplace. And that means having to take whatever subsidies are available to us.

SEAN SPEER: Let me ask a couple more questions on this topic because it’s obviously so important. And as I said at the outset, I know few people who’ve thought more deeply about it than you. 

You mentioned one of the risks is the politicization of these questions and the potential harm that that does to the reputation of the news media. But I’ve heard you argue elsewhere that another risk is the kind of distortion it creates in the marketplace, that it may impede the kind of innovation and change that we need to see from legacy media institutions. 

Do you want to just talk a bit about that risk, and how we need to find ways to create the conditions for legacy media to evolve and change as opposed to remaining sort of stuck in old models that are no longer working for the digital age?

DAVID SKOK: Yeah, and it certainly gets complicated if you have government involvement. And you know, the affairs of the nation of the bedroom, right? No government should be thinking about prescribing solutions for how a sector or how a company should transform those conditions. I consider those the outputs of determining success, and sometimes, when it comes to policy, as I’ve discovered through this process, we tend to overcomplicate what the potential outputs solutions may be. So, by that, I mean things like defining what a local journalist is and then subsidizing a local journalist. 

Well, a local journalist to you may be very different from a local journalist to me, Sean. You may love cooking and have a wonderful kitchen at home that you enjoy supporting and making meals for your family, and you get that from your local newspaper. Who am I to suggest that that is any less important a function of a newspaper, or obituaries being any less of a function of a newspaper and bringing a community together, than having a reporter at City Hall? And we’re in a position where consistently, government is prescribing the solution of what is needed. So yes, if you will, there actually is this thing called the local journalism initiative, which is if you hire local journalists who report in City Hall, you will be subsidized for doing so. 

My view is if you’re going to subsidize anything, whether it’s a large legacy player or a start-up, focus on the inputs, and only the inputs. Whatever operating expenses you have devoted to the newsroom, a certain percentage of that is eligible for whatever allocation you have, what you choose to do with that is none of our business, and I think that I say this with immense respect. I don’t believe anybody has any mal intent in coming up with these policies. I think everybody recognizes that there are news deserts in certain areas.

But I also think we have to be very mindful about stifling innovation by creating very prescriptive solutions based on criteria that are prescribing the solutions that ultimately stifle whatever innovation we have. Innovation happens through necessity. And it happens by being free to define what it is that you’re going to create outside of the box of what exists today. When government policy is being used to put you in a box, it ends up stifling whatever innovation it is that you’re trying to create. 

SEAN SPEER: I’ll ask you in a minute about growing calls for the government to set out a legislative framework whereby the major platform sites like Google or Facebook would be required to provide some monetary compensation or support to Canadian journalistic organizations. But before I do, I want to ask you a bit about The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Now, these entities have made major investments in journalism, they’ve responded to these market changes by in effect doubling down on journalistic output, and that seems to be paying off. We’ve seen both of them have stronger financial outcomes than many others in the marketplace. 

Are there any lessons for that, from those experiences, for Canadian newspapers? Or are the New York Times and Washington Post just different because of the size of the market, the kind of prestige of the brands, and in the case of the Washington Post, the fact that it has the pockets of the Amazon founder? How should we think about those lessons? Is there anything that Canadian news media organizations ought to be taking from those experiences?

DAVID SKOK: Well, I actually want to add the Globe and Mail to that list. I think the Globe has successfully, by all accounts, made that transition. We call it crossing the chasm between being a traditional print driven business with the commodity expenses of print, whether that’s the price of gas impacts, your business, or the price of lumber because you have printing presses that rely on lumber from Quebec—all of those things are built into these legacy businesses. 

You know, traditional print media was an incredible manufacturing success well before Amazon ever existed. You had newspapers that would have an idea at a morning meeting, and then 24 hours later, that would appear on your doorstep delivered along with the milk of the day. I mean, that is a remarkable manufacturing supply chain efficiency that was built for that time. And for these companies to transform from that hyper-efficient value chain to then be a digital business is an incredibly difficult thing. 

I was involved in some of those transitions as well. I think what the companies that have successfully crossed that chasm and made that transition had is very simple. They had runway. They were able to—Jeff Bezos, reportedly upwards of $100 million a year were the cheques he was writing. I joined the Boston Globe at around the same time that Jeff Bezos bought the Post and we looked at ourselves relative to the Post, and how much runway in cash they had. I’d say the same thing about the New York Times which went public. But remember, there was a period there in 2013-2014 or 2012 when they were going to be sold. They sold off a lot of their existing assets, like the Boston Globe, About.com; they got rid of those. 

They had Carlos Slim, a Mexican, wealthy benevolent investor who provided them with cash flow. So, all of this to say they had a lot of runway. They had deep pockets and a lot of runway that allowed them to make that transition. And I suspect The Globe and Mail with the Thompson family was in a similar boat. It’s not very complicated. At the end of the day, you need to spend on the technological infrastructure to make that transition and then be willing to cut and disrupt yourself and the print revenue stream that you have in order to grow the digital one. And those organizations that have been able to do that, I think, just have had a longer time horizon to be able to make that transition,

SEAN SPEER: I referred to the so-called Australian model that is gaining traction in Canada including being referred to in the Liberal Party platform, for instance, in the last election cycle. Do you want to explain to listeners what the Australian model is? And then maybe more importantly, what you think about it? 

DAVID SKOK: Yeah, so one of the ways, as governments and publishers are looking at ways to cross this chasm to become digital businesses, one of the things that they have been clamouring for, whether it was Rupert Murdoch with his network of newspapers and TV stations in Australia, or now Post Media—who full disclosure is an investor in The Logic—they have been calling for Google and Facebook tech platforms to subsidize the transition because they claim that they lost ad revenue to Google and Facebook in ways that were anti-competitive, based on data practices and other things. Upwards of 80 percent of all digital ad revenue goes to Google and Facebook. 

Now, it does not go to newspapers, and so the argument is, can Google and Facebook, through this Australian legislation, come up with licensing deals for certain products with these companies that sort of balance that out a little bit? The argument more legally, I guess, is you’re using our stuff on your platforms, on your social media platforms and elsewhere, and we’re not getting a cent for it, and so, we deserve to be compensated for that. 

The other piece of the Australian legislation is the idea of collective bargaining so that publishers can join together and negotiate with the platforms for these licensing rights because what they have found is that individual deals lead to certain preferential treatment for some over others. In terms of Canada, what we have seen over the last six-eight months is the platform’s have begun signing these one-off deals with some of these publishers. We have not signed a deal with any of the platforms, but some already have, and now the argument is—and this is where I kind of feel the same way about big tech subsidization or big tech regulation as I did about government subsidy, which is look we all should fend for ourselves. Keep it a level playing field. 

The problem we now have, and where I feel The Logic has to speak up, is these deals that have been signed being for alternately large sums of money. We don’t know, because they’re all under NDA, and as a result of that, there is a distortion in the market now, where we, as an upstart competitor, are having to compete for talent against other publishers who have now have the benefit of Google and Facebook money. I have no problem playing in a competitive marketplace competing for talent, it’s better for everybody. But what I do have a problem with is the distortion of the marketplace, which makes it harder to actually succeed on your own merits. And I think that’s where we are now, and I think that’s why we believe that The Logic that now is that our journalists are independent, but from an executive function level, that we need the Australian legislation to be moved forward so that we can negotiate on a level playing field with these platforms who currently have all the leverage in those negotiations. 

SEAN SPEER: David, we’ve just talked a bit about government support. We’ve also talked about calls to create a legal framework whereby the platforms would provide compensation to media organizations. More generally, can you please paint a picture of what the future of media looks like for you? Is it more like The Logic? Or will we see consolidation like the New York Times‘ recent acquisition of The Athletic

DAVID SKOK: So, I had the great, great privilege of studying under Clay Christensen at Harvard Business School. Clay, as you know, was the father of disruption theory. Anything that came out of Silicon Valley, sometimes it became a negative, if you read some of Jill Lepore’s work in the New Yorker about it, but Clay was the father of disruption theory, and we wrote a paper together on how you applied disruption theory to journalism. And it was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me because it allowed me to see the forest from the trees, and that if you know anything about disruption theory, the disruption curve is an ongoing thing. You start at the bottom of the market with something that’s cheaper, faster, good enough, and then you move up the market until you overshoot the needs of your consumer. And that makes you vulnerable for new disruptors to come in and disrupt you again, and it’s an ongoing cycle. 

So when I think about this question, sorry to get all academic about it, but we are on a continuum. We are in a place right now, where things like The Logic are at the bottom of the curve, cheaper, faster, good enough, while those that with a department store approach to newspapers and journalism more broadly, are at the top of the curve, and in many ways have overshot their needs to their consumers. Inevitably, you can pick off certain areas, which we have done, which The Athletic did with a sports section, which Craig’s List did by looking at advertising. When I look at The Logic in the industry more broadly, I think you’re gonna see more players move up market. And when we do, yeah, you’ll see consolidation, as the big players try to either acquire and verticalize their own businesses, or you’ll see us move on market and continue to steal market share away as the business evolves. 

And those companies will need to deal with the consequences of that as well. I can only focus on my company, but I would say that it’s an ongoing evolution. When we look at things like news deserts, I am perhaps less pessimistic than most in that I believe innovation is an ongoing cycle, and we have to let it happen. It’s why I feel so strongly that a fair playing field is so important because you can’t let the disruption happen if you’re constantly artificially bending those curves and slowing down that transformation. So, I think you’ll see how it looks like The Logic thrives as we move forward, and you’ll see other entrants come in underneath The Logic that will have to, as Andy Grove used to say from Intel, only the paranoid survive. So, we’re constantly paranoid looking down market to see what could disrupt us too. 

SEAN SPEER: If we can shift topics, David, we recently had American journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon on the podcast. You’ll probably know that she’s been critical in a new book about what she describes as the rise of so-called “wokeism” in the world of journalism. What would you say to those that believe that journalism in Canada or elsewhere has become more progressive and more activist? 

DAVID SKOK: Well, I can only speak for The Logic and tell you what we try to do. As a news organization, as I said, off the top we were founded on the premise of journalism, and not any ideological bent. Look, I think one of the big questions in our industry is the idea of objectivity. There’s no such thing as objectivity. 

Well, maybe this isn’t a popular view, but I think we all come to whatever we do with our own biases. I certainly have my own biases. As a start-up, running a company, as an immigrant to this country, I have certain biases. But what we do in journalism, when we’re doing it, what I believe the right way, the independent way, is we triangulate our biases by reporting by independently reporting the facts. And it’s why you need more than two sources when you’re reporting on anything, because you’re trying to triangulate the truth based on the biases that you as a reporter have, and the editor and your subjects. And so, it may not be a popular view anymore to say that objectivity is important. 

But my view is, yes, we come with our own biases. But at the end of the day, our job as editors and as news organizations is to try to triangulate the truth, and be as objective and fair as possible and our reporting is based on that. Sometimes that may please readers, other times it may not, but I don’t think our job is necessarily to always please our readers. It is to inform our readers, and those are very different things.

SEAN SPEER: The American writer Yuval Levin has made the case that journalists’ presence on social media platforms, namely Twitter, has done damage to the reputation and trust in the industry because it’s led to journalists performing on the platform as opposed to committing themselves to the craft of journalism. What do you think about Levin’s argument? And, more generally, how can journalists, in a world in which there’s pressure to create brands and huge financial rewards for those that are successful at it, ensure that those efforts don’t ultimately undermine people’s trust and confidence in journalism?

DAVID SKOK: You know, back in 2008-2009, when the big financial crisis happened that gutted newsrooms, that was really the end of an era of newsrooms. And look, there’s a lot not to like about that era. But one of the things that was really good about that era was that you had this mid-level manager in newsrooms: editors. And editors were the first thing to get cut, whether it was copy editors or editors who produced and mentored younger journalists. I think as an industry, one of the things that we have lost is that mentorship, and as a result, you have younger journalists who may be missing that second eye or that second read on things. 

And look, I’m a practitioner at heart, I’m a very tactical person, and I think that very simply, we just need more editors in a lot of ways to check our impulses. I write a column every two weeks, and sometimes when I write that column, my editor will tell me, “You know what, David, you’re just too angry here. Try again.” And man, I don’t necessarily like it at the time, but I bless them, thank every day that I have that editor function, helping keep me focused on what I need to be focused on. So, I think, I think we’ve lost a little bit there. 

Counter to that, though: is it any different through these platforms like Twitter or Facebook than it was when Christopher Hitchens could go on Jay Leno or the Johnny Carson Show. There have been those performances in media for as long as media has been around. And it’s not any different now. If anything, it has been democratized, and more people have that opportunity to have those voices. So, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s anything new under the sun, just that there are more people and more amplification on it. 

Where I think I do worry is I think media literacy is a thing that has been lost. If everybody is a publisher then nobody understands what professional editing looks like, and what professional publishing looks like. And that goes for our readers and interpreting the difference between what we do, and what our opinion column heartache is, as well as it goes for the reporters themselves. So, I think media literacy is something that we need to focus on at an earlier age, and also all platforms, to account, to make sure that people understand. We know what they’re getting when they consume news on a stream of consciousness or a stream of thought, as opposed to taking the time to have critical analysis. I suspect the next question you’ll ask me is about trust in journalism, which is, you know, at all-time lows. 

When you look at the Edelman surveys and everything else—and I would say, first of all, trust in journalism has always been low. People don’t like journalists when we’re doing our job; we are inherently critical and skeptical, and you like it when we’re reporting on something or exposing something that you don’t like, but when we come to your neighborhood or your backyard, you’re not going to like it. And so, again, nothing new under the sun that trust in journalism is at all-time lows. But I do think that my one worry for the country is that we seem to have lost the ability for critical thought in many ways. 

We have, regardless of where you are in the political spectrum, whether you’re a Conservative, a Liberal, NDP, or anything else, you actually are more unified, and either you believe in critical thought and critical debate, or you don’t. And it is that growing category of people who are not believing in critical thought that gives me real concern. You see it in your report, and you put yourself out there, and the responses to your work, who is actually engaging in the challenging, difficult, thoughtful, nuanced, critical work, required to have hard conversations, versus who just wants to burn the whole house down. I think that’s really where we should be focusing our energy on is trying to encourage people to have critical independent thought. 

SEAN SPEER: Related to that observation, David, what do you think about the tendency toward factcheck journalism? Is it good? Is it bad? Can it be done well, and how does it fit in the kind of broader conversation about the role of media and the level of trust in media institutions?

DAVID SKOK: It’s a small subset to me, it’s not a consequence. I mean, you’re talking about the PolitiFact type of fact-checking of—is that you mean? Pants on fire versus—

SEAN SPEER: Yeah, I think of the rise of Daniel Dale, who went from the Toronto Star of course to CNN and made a reputation in effect, carrying out a fact-checking and almost oppositional role to the Trump administration.

DAVID SKOK: Well, I think Daniel would probably, not that I speak for Daniel, but he would probably challenge the characterization that he was in opposition. He was trying to triangulate a truth there. I think the problem is when you start getting into subjective truths, and when you quantify things based on that level of quantity, I mean, I think he was doing 100 fact checks a day. And he’s one person; maybe he has a small team with him as well at the start when I was there, but I think when you start getting into subjective truths, subjective facts, that’s when you can get in trouble with that kind of thing. 

But I also don’t think that’s a defining element of journalism. It’s one type of reporting, no different to if you had a Q&A interview with someone or fronted the book of a magazine, where they asked you what do you carry around in your backpack? You know, in a magazine. It’s just a form of reporting. I would rather focus on the deep reporting, that Sue Craig was doing, for example, at the New York Times around Trump’s taxes and tax returns, and if you wanted to get into—that was an undeniable fact, that he was using the tax laws around to shelter his earnings or to hide some of his earnings. That’s very different from an ongoing daily fact check, which can sometimes be subjective.

SEAN SPEER: Let’s wrap up where we started. You said that you’re hoping to build at The Logic something that can be around for 125 years. Maybe perhaps, less ambitiously, where would you like to be in say, the next three years? What does success look like for you and the team?

DAVID SKOK: Well we’re striving—we’re still a start-up. We took on venture capital and so I think for us being a sustainable operation would be the goal. And we are on our way to doing that. We generate revenues. I think what’s been really fantastic for us is we’ve diversified our revenue streams. Yes, we are primarily a subscription-based business, but the subscription-based business drives other revenue. We have a phenomenal readership of people who then bring in sponsors who want to get in front of our audience in a journalistically sound way, ethically wise. 

But also licensing. We license our journalism to financial posts, where most of your readers probably would be familiar with, with seeing our name, and just continuing to diversify and provide a sustainable journalistic path forward that allows our journalists to be compensated as fairly as possible. And I’ve been very proud of the resilience of our business during the pandemic, and if we can continue to that and be a sustainable business in the next three years that is continuing to do great reporting that drives the agenda. I’ll be very proud of it. 

You know, even just in the last couple of months when you look at the NAFTA negotiation through the USMCA negotiations around electric vehicles, and the challenges that were happening in late November with the Trudeau Government, and Washington around EVs, well, we have terrific reporter Anita Balakrishnan who’s been covering EVs for a year up to that point, and it was no surprise to us what was happening and we were able to cover it definitively. Or when you look at the Convoy protests, and digital currency and crypto funds being frozen, we have two reporters who cover open banking in this country and digital currency. And so, I think, authoritatively, Claire Brunel and David Reeley have driven the coverage on digital currency. 

So, as long as we continue to do what Ernie Kilgore, former editor at The Wall Street Journal used to say about being able to see around corners and provide your readers with a little bit of insight into what’s coming. I’ll be delighted if that is our journalistic function. 

SEAN SPEER: Well, we wish you the best of luck, David Skok, the founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of The Logic. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s Hub Dialogue.

DAVID SKOK: Thanks so much for having me. It’s been a real pleasure.

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