The Tyee may be the oldest surviving “digital native” news site in Canada. Who funds it and why has it stuck around for so long while so many others have faded away? Founder David Beers explains.

Episode Breakdown

2:55 The Diverse group of Tyee owners including the British Columbia Federation of Labour (link)

3:37 “The main message here is a very innovative and public interest minded labour movement in British Columbia has done something amazing, which is fund independent journalism” Beers

4:30 “Media Diversity was a value that was held by the labour movement in BC back in 2003” Beers

4:50 Vancouver Sun ownership over the years (link)

the sale of Vancouver Sun by Canwest (link)

5:04 “Back in those days Canwest owned just about everything in BC. it owned three major papers, it owned the television nightly newscast which if I’m correct it got as much viewership as all the others combined. It owned the major web portal, and it owned most of the weekly’s as well” Beers

Canwest Monopoly broken down here (link)

6:20 “I was speaking to the Senate on this very issue because the situation is when one company controlled so much of the media, it created three problems. It suppressed competition among journalists…. (7:01)The fact Canwest owned all the stuff, producing more content because they were more efficient which is what they argued to the regulators instead they just cut in everyone of their holdings, they just cut back. and they repurposed a lot of their material so therefore you got less coverage….(7:24)the third problem was it tilted the balance between the advertiser and the company, in others at a certain point Canwest had manage to create so many layers of options for advertisers that it saw itself as an integrated one stop shop outlet for advertisers and so you the felt in the newsroom the power of the advertiser.” Beers

10:03 “They heard me arguing for diversity in the media and I wasn’t saying what we need is a labour newspaper, I said what we need is something that represents middle to progressive values because actually, most people in British Columbia and Canada, I’m not talking about radical notions here, I’m talking about barely moderate over to the left social democratic values perhaps there’s a lot of people in Canada who hold those values and they weren’t being represented in the media.” Beers

11:49 “That’s what I told the folks investing in the Tyee, I said this is really exciting, I think labour should be involved in media. I think it should fund media, but only if it acts as somebody who want’s to see a diversity of public interest and journalism done. and only if labour is fine with some very bad days for labour on the Tyee” Beers

15:54 “My background is in investigative and what I call “solution-focused” journalism, another word you can use is future focused journalism. If you say in a democratic realm, constantly reporting about what went wrong yesterday and whose fault it was and why they need to be fired simply engenders cynicism. Which I’m sad to say is the culture of a lot of the newsrooms I worked in.” Beers

17:17 “You say special interests fund media, I’d say special interests always fund media. I can’t imagine a media that isn’t funded by special interest” Beers

18:57 “The Tyee started with a $200,000 investment from the people you’re talking about which is laughable if you compare it to what Sun Media is pouring into it’s TV shows and what have you.” Beers

19:20 “What I told my investors is that I’m only interested in doing this if we can do something of such a high quality that it attracts investment, advertising and partners based on that quality….. And two things can happen, you could pressure me and harass me and tell me what you want on the website in which case I’ll quit, cause I got other things to do. Or it could go very well and could be a decent piece or addition,a vital addition to the conversation.” Beers

23:08 “At this point corporate media has created an advertising environment for Enbridge thats gets rewarded with Enbridge advertising. Can it afford to be critical of Enbridge? I don’t know, Why did post media shutdown it’s entire parliamentary bureau recently including Mike Desousa who was doing excellent reporting on Enbridge.”

the layoff (link)

the possible reason (link)

23:35 “The more we become a petro state the more we become an economy that’s so dependent on the oil sands and petroleum companies, how do you design a publication that is irritating and angering petro interests?” Beers

25:55 “You can only have a healthy media ecosystem where they’re many creatures swimming around in the ecosystem” Beers

26:55 The Tyee labour story about bringing temporary workers from China (link)

The CBC follow up (link)

29:35 A callback to some of CANADALAND’s work a while back. (link)

30:24 “Andrew Nikiforuk, he just won a lifetime writers achievement award and he’s the famous author of a number of books about energy except he can’t get published in a lot of places, that’s odd. He keeps writing very critical investigative stories about the oil industry, and it’s really hard for him to find an outlet.” Beers (link)

33:30: “I wrote about a very outspoken radical academic a UBC who had compared the US to Al-qaeda, basically saying it had blood on it’s hands. There was a big backlash to her statement including in the pages of the (Vancouver) Sun. Then I called out the backlash and nine days later I was fired” Beers. A Globe and Mail article explaining Beers firing, from 2009 (link)

36:36 “Anybody who is trying to make money of clicks in Canada is playing a mugs game, there aren’t enough people in Canada to really  create enough clicks for anybody to make enough money” Beers

36:54 “The Globe and Mail and the Star are all competition with each other for clicks so they will cannibalize each other” Beers

37:28 “The Huffington post in Canada has 30 editors, and two reporters…30 editors, what are they doing, what does it mean to be an editor. their surfing the web and repurposing” Beers

Beers was part right, 2 reporters, 16 editors (link)

38:04 “When your click-driven, you’re so busy repurposing what someone else has started because it’s already showing up on Chartbeat(analytics software) and getting hits. That you’re not bringing new stories into the conversation” Beers