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The Day The Tyee Was Born I Wrote This

Twenty years ago, I published this inaugural set of pledges and invitations. How’d we do?

David Beers 27 Nov 2023The Tyee

David Beers is the founding editor of The Tyee and serves as current editor-in-chief.

When The Tyee popped up on the internet two decades ago, the tech was so rickety that some of our very first stories can’t be found anymore, unless you tease them out using the miraculous digital archive called the Wayback Machine.

Given that this month marks our 20th anniversary (we trickled stories onto the site starting Nov. 17, 2003, and posted our first full edition six days later), we enlisted the Wayback Machine to see what quaint introduction I might have offered.

What surprised me is how little has changed in all that time. Oh, sure, in the interim we’ve seen the arrival of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, wireless devices, a global financial meltdown, a global pandemic meltdown and TikTok.

Yes, it’s cute and cringy that back then I urged folks to click on newfangled “web links” in “this electronic newspaper” and to print out Tyee stories to share with friends less computer savvy.

But the gist of my retrieved message in a bottle is pretty much what we’re saying to you today with every new story we post here on The Tyee.

That B.C. needs its own independent news media, and that the engagement and support of you, our readers, is key to making it happen.

The technology I hyped in my article was email. Seems a tad retro now. Except our free email newsletters remain our best way to connect with Tyee readers at a moment when Facebook is blocking news, Google is threatening the same and Elon Musk has Xed out Twitter.

So have a look at what I scribbled when this website was brand new and full of clunky optimism. I’d like to know what you think. Did we have it right? Did we deliver? And given how far we’ve come, where should we go next? Your comments are welcome in the thread below this article. Feel free as well to send your remarks via good old email to editor[at]thetyee[dot]ca.

Oh, and if you’re in the Vancouver area, please come to our birthday celebration this Thursday at the Rio Theatre. We’ll be debating, appropriately enough, the fate of journalism. All are invited!

And now... that blast from the past (including our original masthead).

960px version of TyeeOldMasthead.png

Welcome, and watch us grow. In fact, join in to make us better!

Monday, Nov. 17, 2003

By David Beers

Why The Tyee? Glad you asked. Maybe you mean, why the name? The tyee, generally understood in these parts, is a savvy salmon with plenty of fight. Like this electronic newspaper, it roams free, goes where it wants...

But maybe you are asking, why create The Tyee? Why now? For starters:

Because big media in this province are owned by a powerful few with their own agendas.

Because that leaves many people here hungry for news and comment that reflects their actual lives, their own values.

Because "The Big Smoke" of Vancouver/Victoria hears too little from the rest of the province and together we have plenty of challenges and solutions to talk about.

And because we British Columbians are such a good story — so many good stories every day that don't get told. At The Tyee you'll find investigative reporting no one else is doing, and fresh viewpoints from all over B.C.

Join us in building an alternative.

This is a humble beginning, we know. Heck, we're launching with a few bugs probably, and certainly without all our many planned features in place. New columnists, departments, areas of coverage will be rolled out in the days and weeks to come.

But because our writers are already filing timely stories that won't hold, we've decided to launch without having in place every single piece.

The key piece, of course, is you.

You can help The Tyee thrive by reading closely and critically, telling us what you like and don't. And by suggesting story ideas and other web links.

What you see here is just the beginning. We plan to be adding a lot of new columns and features in the near future. And while we have some great journalists on board already, we've only begun to fill out our team. We are seeking talent in every corner of B.C., journalists, photographers, illustrators. Is this you?

We have enough budget to get us going, but it is bare bones. We are seeking investors, advertisers, funders for our long list of investigative projects just waiting for resources. Is this you?

Simplest of all, you can help The Tyee thrive by spreading the word. Print out or email our articles and pass them on. Just how hungry are British Columbians for an alternative news source? Help us find out.

Definitely subscribe. It's free.

Use the subscribe button on our home page and every week you will receive an email version of The Tyee that collects the original features posted here over the previous five days. It's an easy way to keep looking in, and if you do, we promise to work hard to earn not only your attention, but your respect.

As noted at the outset, the word tyee is by local current definition a spring salmon 30 pounds or more. But more than a century ago, the original Chinook word carried even more weight. In those days (as writer Terry Glavin has emailed us to point out) a tyee meant a chief, a king, "anything of superior order" — even a newspaper.

That's something to aim for as we swim against the current.  [Tyee]

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