This is the final cover of the Ottawa Xpress. Our local weekly in Ottawa, which last year closed its doors.
Open File was a promising startup model by WilfDinnick here in TO. He combined citizen journalism, with indepth reporting in a really unique way. Went on Hiadus September 28th and they haven’t returned.Reports that many of their freelancers are still unpaid and that accounts are locked.
The Wig was a venture from a former Xpress editor with money from the hill Times (a popular publication on the hill) The idea was a to create a web cultural resource, with an event calendar and lots of reviews. The last post on the Wig was February 8 – it was a post about Whitney Houston Funding for the site came from the Hill times, a popular publication on parliament hill
Paywalls are going up Nearly 70% of reporters are tweeting “sometimes” Over 50% of reporters are blogging for their publication More free give away or commuter papers are making things complicated. Postmedia (which owns many local papers) is in financial stress. Only a few independent papers left – the Free Press and the Chronicle Herald are some of the best examples Technology has changed this space in so many ways – from digital editions, to advertising to the way that reporters work
Can we rely on the Ottawa Citizen? Can we rely on major dailies?
I’ve got some ideas on how we can do things differently.Some ideas about how we can take back some control over our media I see a few bright spots that I think we should pay more attention to It’s going to be a little more work though…
Staff: 182.5 (Full-time equivalent)Volunteer force: 5,992 working an estimated 21,000 hours per weekProgramming languages: at least 63 Estimated population within signal range of NCRA members: 23,771,000 Canadians or over 75% of Canada’s population(according to the campus and community radio association)
250,000 visitors monthlyVolunteer reporting is critical
Screenshot of the Huffington Post politics section. Althia Raj (who also sits on the board of Apartment613) is the only paid staff in Ottawa. They broke the news on Attimwapiskat. One of the most important housing stories of the year wasn’t written by a reporter or printed on paper. More than 500,000 people read that story They are getting 4.2 million UVs a month
A year ago this month Charlie Angus wrote an op ed in the Huffington Post that put the small and remote community of attawapiskat on everyone’s agenda. They broke the news on Attimwapiskat. One of the most important housing stories of the year wasn’t written by a reporter or printed on paper. More than 500,000 people read that story http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/charlie-angus/attawapiskat-emergency_b_1104370.html#s487209
A group of 8 friends in Ottawa, came together to found a news website that we wanted to read. We were filling a gap that we saw in the market, with effort. We combined beautiful photos (all generated by our community) with stories written by volunteers, and edited by us (often all these volunteers were the same people to get us started) It took off. We’re getting 75,000 hits a month. There is blog TO and the Torontoist here in TO, corporate blogs, but actually mainly contributed to by volunteers. Apartment613 has incorporated as a not for profit orgnaization. I am the president of a board of directors that worries about things like fundraising and governance. We’re not working out of dorm rooms or our mother’s basements. Fresh Daily – the network that owns blog TO also has properties in Montreal (but couldn’t make it work in Vancouver) Mainstream media is now being influenced by these sites.
Creating an institution to attempt to do media differently. Try something that we think might work to serve a market where others have tried and failed. The project is only as good as the community that supports it. But we’ve evolved the project beyond just a website – we’ve developed a community around it.
Fullyfringed.ca was a site we created to serve a very specific goal We heard from the Ottawa theatre community that they were having a tough time getting reviews for Fringe shows. The CBC would review 2 or 3 and the ottawa Citizen would do the same. It’s tough for a touring fringe play to get momentum if they don’t get reviews. A site that we created specifically to review every single fringe play
Last Spring we received an Awesome Ottawa grant to try something awesome and create a space to take online conversation offline and into real spaces Next event is on entrepreneurship – we’re bringing together three entrepreneurs from the Ottawa area – the CEO of a company called Shopify , a vegan baker and a political consultant. Our last event looked at creative capital, where we brought together a panel of leaders from Ottawa’s design community to talk about what it was like running a creative enterprise in the city
A month-long celebration of local business 90+ participants are running over 40 events all month long. There are specific projects to respond to the needs of the community. For example, on Bronson Avenue we helped a series of businesses who were suffering with a long period of construction on their street to come together to creat a Bronson Food passport – encouraging people to try a series of restaurants in the neighborhood
It’s not just about the technology for making mediaIt’s also about the tool to run the business side of things. Online collaboration tools,
How do we engage with this media reality?
We’re all sources in the end.
What if the media aren’t a group of people we send press releases, but rather something that we engage with? What if we are the media? What if we’re creating it?
I would suggest that other institutions are changing as well. The House of Paint, hip hop festival in Ottawa is bringing together artists that were feeling exlcuded from the regular festival circuit. Found space for graffiti with a legal graffiti wall, celebrating a cultural community that needed a space.
We’re becoming more entrepreneurial and engaged.
Our politics are also becoming participatory in new waysOpen data movements are popping up across Canadian cities, where hackers and programmers can work with data sets from government or other organizations in creating apps that they desire It reduces the burden on government alone, letting the best people (wherever they are) jump in and find solutions.
Changing local media
OURCHANGINGMEDIATELLING OUR STORIES WITH NEW TOOLSRYAN SAXBY HILL@SAXBY | SAXBY.TUMBLR.COM
A BIT ABOUT MEI run media relations and online engagement efforts for theCanada Foundation for Innovation.I have worked as a media spokesperson/ publicist and havesuccessfully placed stories in many top media outlets.I an the founding editor of the Ottawa-based blogApartment613.I sit on the board of Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation.I live in non-profit housing and I am passionate aboutkeeping our cities affordable, vibrant and interesting.
WHAT TO COVERTODAY?A few trends that I find interesting and meaningfulA model that I think can workStrategies for telling stories about housing, urbanism andcitiesAnything else? (seriously, I’m pretty flexible)Your stories and questions about working with the media
APARTMENT613A community news siteVolunteer-run, not-for-profitFocus on more than media – events, lectures, festivalsCreated Apartment613 Community Initiatives to oversee thisproject
THE TREND Low-cost digital tools have made media-making more accessible. This has thrown a wrench in the business plans of many publications, but many others evolving and adapting to fit. There is a proliferation of communication skills and ability. There are passionate communities of “doers” willing to help. Bloggers have become legitimate media. We’re ready for distributed, more independent organizations (technology enables this)
IF THIS IS THE NEW REALITY….WHAT ARETHETACTICS?
COMMUNICATORSHAVE TOOLS Owned media is critical Social media is a huge opportunity Our tenants are sources
THOUGHTLEADERSHIP• Opinion pieces• Events and public addresses• Developing a public expertise around issues that are important to us
CAPACITYDEVELOPMENTEmpowering everyone with digital tools
WHAT IF THE MEDIA IS NOT JUST SOMETHINGWE CONSUME, BUT SOMETHINGTHAT WEENGAGEWITH?
WHAT DOES IT MEANFOR US?Our organizations need to become our own mediaWe need to think about how we can produce contentWe need to empower staff, volunteers and tenants to tell ourstories.We need to engage with the new media beyond pressreleases and statements.We need to partner with the media to tell a story – give themaccess over time, focus on the relationships, createengagement with our issues.