Observer Media Group will launch the National Observer this week, as a sister site to the Vancouver Observer.

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After months of planning and fundraising, the Observer Media Group will launch the National Observer this week, its second online publication and sister site to the Vancouver Observer.

J-Source spoke with Observer Media Group CEO and then-Vancouver editor-in-chief Linda Solomon Wood last August about early plans to launch a national version of the nine-year-old city publication. At the time, she said the organization would need to raise $100,000 to launch the National Observer. To date, their Kickstarter fundraiser for the project has raised over $80,000, and the new team that will contribute to the national publication’s coverage will include a senior reporter, carbon reporter, sustainability reporter and two new hires: one investigative reporter based in Toronto and another in Ottawa.

The Toronto position has already been filled: investigative reporter Bruce Livesey, previously of Global News and CBC, will cover stories of both national and local interest. “This is an election year, so one focus for Bruce will be everything to do with how the Conservative government has been performing for the past few years,” said Solomon Wood. The Ottawa spot, however, has yet to be filled. Solomon Wood herself will take the role of editor-in-chief of the National Observer, while entrepreneur and writer Sandy Garossino will join Vancouver Observer as editor.

Reporting staff will mostly work on in-depth investigations, said Solomon Wood. “We’re going to be a small team for the first year, but we’re going to be focused.” Day-to-day news will mostly be filled by The Canadian Press environmental news wire. Freelancers will also contribute reporting.

The Kickstarter campaign that funded this launch is the Observer’s third; its most recent one from last year raised $54,000 for the Vancouver Observer’s Tar Sands Reporting Project. While crowd-funding will be a significant leg of the news sites’ funding model, previous investments and donations to Observer Media Group and a specifically funded investigation series will also finance its coverage.

The Vancouver Observer, which Solomon Wood launched as a news blog in 2006 out of her living room, has grown into an independent news site that covers energy issues, politics and city news with a small staff of 10, including one reporter based in Ottawa. It was awarded the Canadian Journalism Foundation Award for Excellence in Journalism in the small media category in 2014 and nominated in 2013 and 2012.

“I’ve been told you cannot have a national publication based out of Vancouver. Call me in a year to see if that’s true,” said Solomon Wood. “But I believe in the way that you can start a company like HootSuite in Vancouver, we can do this here, too.”