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Back in 1998, I posted a column on the then brand-new CBC website that questioned Canada's role in the bombing of former states of Yugoslavia. I did something too few journalists were in a position to do at the time: ask questions.
The response was enormous. My email inbox overflowed. I knew then that journalism was on the cusp of change and about to transform into something dynamic, interactive, and engaging. I realized that this was a great medium for independent progressive journalism.
A few short years later working with progressive journalists and geeks, we founded rabble.ca. Much to my surprise, rabble is still alive and thriving. And it's all thanks to you, our readers. I'm writing to you today to ask for you to continue to support rabble.
For nearly 15 years, many brave young voices have come forward and written about their experiences, stories and histories. For over a decade, rabble has covered people and protests that were ignored and undermined by corporate news agencies. We launched by covering the 2001 Free Trade Area of the Americas protests in Quebec City and haven't stopped since.
What fuelled my concerns then hasn't changed. Media concentration and corporate ownership limited even then the space for voices that challenged the status quo. While rabble and a variety of new online sites continue to flourish the concentration and limited perspective of the mainstream media is worse than ever.
You no doubt know about the collapse of newsrooms under the control of Postmedia but there's more. Right now, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is holding public hearings reviewing the state of local television.
What is really being discussed at these hearings is how the current model of corporate journalism in Canada is abruptly failing on all fronts -- especially when it comes to local TV news. Since 2008 as many as 16,000 jobs have been cut sector-wide. What that means is in places like Saskatchewan there are currently zero full-time journalists who report on what's happening in the provincial legislature.
There will likely be no more local news. There will be even less diversity in the few newsrooms that remain. Just like the early Internet days, we see what's on the horizon.
We knew then we had to launch something new and different. We had to create a new kind of journalism that could harness emerging technology to amplify the activism of the early millennium in an interactive and empowering way. In the days since, the kind of citizen journalism rabble pioneered -- message boards, blogs, social media -- is now the only force currently democratizing the news.
To respond to the narrow coverage of Parliament, rabble raised the resources to hire a parliamentary reporter who has provided progressive analysis and coverage. We have also hired a labour reporter to make sure union activists and others could follow debates and action of the union movement.
While rabble cannot substitute for local media, we can provide a space for those young writers and journalists who have little or no access to an audience, including on local issues. Now is the time to support rabble like never before. Independent media will continue to play the role of replacing news coverage and rabble has the plan to do it.
Donate now and let's build the independent media alternative that we need in Canada.