Look Ahead: Canadian Media Outlets Collaborate to Tackle the Biggest Challenges in the Industry

These days, it’s not uncommon for newspapers to work together and collaborate, but now, digital news media outlets are following the same path.

Last summer, Canadian digital news media company The Discourse began to examine what was working in Canada and the U.S. by focusing on what new media outlets were opening instead of on what newsrooms were closing.

Funding from the McConnell Foundation, Waterloo Global Science Initiative and Canadian Film Centre Media Lab allowed The Discourse to research this thought more thoroughly, write a report on their findings, and gather together a group of industry experts and media outlets.

Their findings led them to focus on three of the biggest challenges facing the industry: the lack of money, innovation and diversity.

In November 2018, The Discourse invited nine digital news media outlets to gather together to discuss these challenges: The Narwhal, Taproot Edmonton, The Pointer, Indian and Cowboy, The Sprawl, Media Indigena, The Public Record and The Deep. Together, the companies formed the Canadian Journalism Innovators (CJI).

Erin Miller, founder and CEO of The Discourse, speaking with the founder of The Pointer, San Grewal, (right) and the founder of The Public Record, Joey Coleman, (left) at a Canadian Journalism Innovators meeting. (Photo by Lindsay Sample)

By January, CJI officially launched with three main goals: to mobilize funding to create sustainable business models for public service journalism; accelerate innovation through collaborative research and development; and ensure women and people of color are equitably respected among founders and leaders of new digital media.

“It’s really about collaboration and we’re just figuring out what that will look like so that all of the outlets can take on leadership in areas that they want and that the collective of CJI members can determine what this becomes,” said Lindsay Sample, managing editor of The Discourse.

Sample mentioned that CJI was inspired by many U.S. models, and the group will possibly convene every other week to review priorities and share ideas.

Although their journey is just starting, the interest in CJI has been extensive. Sample said they have been fielding questions every day because “people want to share and learn…because there’s so much need for information.”

This need to network is, essentially, why CJI is so important.

“Everyone is just trying to make their organizations succeed,” she said. “(Anyone) in start-up journalism labs can feel overworked and alone and like you’re fighting an uphill battle. So to have a group that comes together is really what motivated the founding of the Canadian Journalism Innovators. We want to hold on to this energy; we need to formalize this in some way.”

For more information, visit join.thediscourse.ca/canadianjournalisminnovators.

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