A severe storm hit Britain in 1987. What was unique about this particular storm had nothing to do with Mother Nature. Some claim that the storm took the nation by surprise because of faulty whether equipment. Rowland Lorimer, the author of Mass Communication in Canada, begs to differ. Because the once national weather service had been privatized, only those who had subscribed to the top-level of service were aware of the coming storm. Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to create private knowledge-based industries on a foundation of public-sector information included no safeguard for public emergencies.
If you have stuck with me for this long you are probably asking yourself, neat story, but what does it have to do with non-profit news organizations?
I will stop short of drawing a direct parallel by suggesting that news worthy stories may go uncovered in the for-profit media world leading events to take us by surprise. What’s news is news. But the manner in which it is covered may not be as “fair and balanced” as we might think (click the link for a laugh). In fact this very notion which is said to be the underpinning of all good journalism is to often taken for granted. We all know this. For this reason alone non-profit media is important. Not only for investigative pieces in the public interest, but for independent views on the news.
For an example of what can go wrong with for-profit media, we need look no further than the case of former STU journalism student, Matt Mccann. Matt was fired from the Irving-owned Telegraph Journal after he wrote this article about several UNB professors circulating a letter which expressed their protest to the presentation of an honorary degree to then-premier Shawn Graham. Our own Phillip Lee wrote an article on this case. Another example was the 2008 case of the Carleton Free Press.
If I go missing in the next few days after this post, investigate the Irving’s first.
What this province needs is a non profit news organization of its own. The New Brunswick Beacon is close in the direction towards what I am talking about here. It is a good example of student journalism, but not quite the non-profit model needed.
Two existing non-profit models which a New Brunswick start-up could follow are the Voice of San Diego and the Texas Tribune. These organizations are leading the way for new media usage. Couple this with their independent view and you get a unique layout and focus to each article not found in the profit driven media outlets which often reproduce several versions of the same story.