Video courtesy of The Tyee
The Tyee, an award-winning B.C.-based magazine has decided to expand its coverage nationally. The Tyee’s editor-in-chief, David Beers, explains this bold venture and what it will take for that vision to be realized.
J-Source: What made you decide to make The Tyee national?
David Beers: A better way to say it is that we are aiming to make The Tyee significantly more national than what we publish now. We already publish regular reporting at the forefront of national issues such as energy development, First Nations affairs and food security. A third of our readers are outside of B.C. We keep hearing from people outside of B.C. that they would like more Tyee reporting and analysis about the national scene as federal politics seem to be at once more polarized and revving up.
J-Source: What will this new national Tyee look like? What kind of additional content will you be adding?
DB: That depends on how much money we are able to raise from our Tyee Builders, who pledge a certain amount—$5 to $100—a month. We are assembling what we call our Tyee National Pool of 30 or so reporters and commentators across Canada. And, again, if we raise enough, a Tyee national affairs reporter in Ottawa. As these pieces come together our aim is to establish e-newsletters delivering Tyee national headlines to those who subscribe to them for free. That affords a way to get the benefit of The Tyee’s national reporting without reading the more B.C.-centric headlines we currently email out to subscribers, or going to the site and finding what’s national among the many original stories we publish daily.
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J-Source: Tell us a little bit about the national commentators you have lined up.
DB: They are a mix of highly recognized voices we think deserve an even wider audience—star journalists like Lawrence Martin and Stevie Cameron and Andrew Nikiforuk and Marci McDonald—and many voices who are emerging and have expertise in important areas, from the young, dynamic Heiltsuk leader Jess Housty in the Great Bear Rainforest, to media watchdog Jonathan Sas, the new research director at the Broadbent Institute in Ottawa. Half are women, and we are striving to include a lot of younger voices.
J-Source: What about the Ottawa bureau? How many staff will you be hiring and how will their coverage differ from the usual run-around you see from the Hill?
DB: Again, it depends on how much money we raise. Even if we achieve our goal and receive pledges of $100,000 for the year, that money won’t fully be in hand for 12 months, so our aim is build gradually with whatever resources we have. We might start out with a part-time person at first, but our desire is to establish at least one well-resourced full-timer in Ottawa. We will give our national reporter the same mandate we have given our B.C. Legislative Bureau Chief Andrew MacLeod, that is, feel free to veer away from the herd. Miss that scrum if it allows you to develop news stories that no one is covering. Broaden coverage rather than replicating it. Our goal is to break hard news stories. Some of those stories, rather than expose failures, might focus on solutions—reporting on experiments that are yielding promising results for positive social change. We are particularly interested in economic issues, as the gap between rich and poor widens, threatening Canada’s middle class.
J-Source: What kind of a financial commitment do you need from readers to make this happen?
DB: Our goal for this drive is $100,000. We would welcome, of course, any larger contribution to match some or all of what our readers are contributing in their grassroots way. I think the fact that we’ve already raised $5,000 a day in one week shows there is support among people with modest means. If someone more fortunate wants to incentivize Tyee Builders by offering to match contributions, that would be a great motivator.
J-Source: When do you hope to get this national version live?
DB: We are going to keep publishing The Tyee with its B.C. focus—that’s not diminishing. Meanwhile, we aim to add more and more national content. So what we are proposing—for now —is an evolution of The Tyee, not a brand new site. However, depending on the appetite and interest, perhaps a new national site, one that combines what The Tyee is producing with other news and commentary feeds, will make sense down the road.