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Media

Independent News Media Is Having a Moment. Here’s Why

The Tyee is proving a new model for fact-based journalism can work. Join the momentum. Help us reach our year-end membership goal.

Jeanette Ageson 6 Dec 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Jeanette Ageson is publisher of The Tyee.

Imagine this: you’re smack in the middle of a busy workday as the editor of a growing independent media organization. Checking with reporters. Nailing down facts. Finalizing pieces to be read online by thousands.

Out of nowhere, you get a call from a name you don’t recognize saying that your organization has won an award for “significant contribution to journalism.” What’s more, the caller from the Webster Foundation notes that, for a long time, the people who give out the prize weren’t even sure your organization was going to amount to much. For 18 years, they watched and waited to see if the wild idea was… real.

That’s the call that Robyn Smith, The Tyee’s editor, received some months ago.

As it turns out, this year The Tyee received not only that special Webster recognition, but also more Webster Awards in various categories than any other news organization in British Columbia. More than the CBC. More than the Sun and the Province. More than the Globe and Mail.

Are we bragging? I guess so. We’re proud of Bryan Carney, whose investigation of RCMP online spying earned a Webster for tech issues. We’re proud of Christopher Cheung, whose features received a Webster for diversity and inclusion. We’re proud of Andrew MacLeod, whose deep dive into privatization of health care won a Webster for business, industry and labour. We’re proud of Andrew Nikiforuk, a Webster finalist for his pandemic health coverage.

We’re just as proud of all our hard-working team, including reporters Moira Wyton (health); Amanda Follett Hosgood (northern B.C.), Jen St. Denis (Downtown Eastside), Michelle Gamage (climate change) and Katie Hyslop (education, kids and families) who expose injustice and hold power accountable daily.

What’s our secret?

We’re proud we do all this with a far smaller budget and fewer folks than many of the other contenders. And no paywall.

But we know we have a secret advantage.

It’s our business model, which places you — the reader — at the centre of our aims.

Unlike ad-driven publications or our public broadcaster, we owe our independence to thousands of paying members. We call them Builders. And we are inviting you right here, right now, to join their ranks. Then you can bask with other Builders in not only the impact of The Tyee, but in the way we are helping to prove that solid, no-junk journalism has a future in these perilous times.

For the month of December, we’re aiming to add 650 new monthly supporters to our ranks to fund another year of results-getting, independent reporting. Click here to join now.

It’s not just The Tyee that’s pointing towards so hopeful a scenario. Other independent media like Canadaland and the Narwhal are adding journalists to their ranks, bucking the overall trend of layoffs and newsroom closures across the country. Heck, there are enough of us now that The Tyee has helped start a new professional association for independent media organizations to organize and collaborate.

What this new crop of growing independent media orgs have in common is simple. Each of us is unique, yet each of us have chosen business models that rely on direct financial support from our audiences.

The Tyee was among the first to blaze this trail not only in B.C. but Canada. Are we bragging again? Well, please indulge us. Because back when The Tyee first started experimenting with crowdfunding for journalism, the feedback was that we were foolish to try. Now it’s common for new ventures to ask their audience for support. And we love to see it. Let a thousand independent news efforts bloom!

Today we even more firmly believe there is a future for public-interest, paywall-free journalism in Canada.

We are showing that this future depends on direct support from audiences for news outlets they value.

We are demonstrating that stellar journalism that can be done when the news team feels directly responsible to its audience.

Guess how many readers support The Tyee?

The Tyee has had an incredible year of success. But here’s another secret. We did it even though only a relatively small percentage of our audience supports us monthly through our Tyee Builders program.

We dare to dream. What if even three out of 100 readers were Tyee Builders, supporting us with monthly contributions that fit their personal budgets? Just three out of 100 would be far more than now, and the bump in budget would allow us to do more great things.

We want to have even more success this year than last. More stories, more perspectives, more investigations, more solutions. All shared without a paywall limiting who can read us. To do so, we need to know the budget we have to work with.

We are asking you, our readers, to help us get to 650 new monthly supporters by Dec. 31. Click here to sign up now.

Monthly supporters are the lifeblood of The Tyee. Having a stable, predictable stream of revenue helps us plan better and pay consistent, fair wages to our amazing team.

The power of putting readers first

Despite the doubters — hey, we get it, not just folks at the Websters wondered if we would last — we are still here. We are in fact growing when older models of news media are shrinking.

So why is this model working so well for us and others? There are a few reasons:

Seems like a win for news publishers, and for readers.

So what is the outcome of all this support? Here are a few highlights from 2021:

Get our regular impact reports by becoming a Tyee Builder

What we’ve listed above are a fraction of the satisfying outcomes to Tyee journalism made possible by Tyee Builders this year.

Every one of our wins is a win for Tyee Builders. So, if you become a Builder, you will receive not only a big thank you, but to our supporters, we send regular updates on the impact of our journalism and behind-the-scenes insight into how we work through a regular members-only newsletter.

We believe that fact-based, public-interest journalism that puts the interest of its readers first is a must in our society. And we know the best way to make that kind of journalism happen is for readers to directly support the journalism they value. We want to make the “moment” that independent media is having into a sustained, positive new era.

Be a part of growing our independent newsroom. Help The Tyee hit 650 before 2022! Click here to sign up now.

And if you’d like to learn more about The Tyee’s mission, principles, history and unusual name, go here.  [Tyee]

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