The Cowichan Discourse’s do-or-die moment
Together, we’ve built a brighter future for community-powered reporting in small towns. Will you help pay for it?
Today’s a big day. The Cowichan Discourse is launching a campaign to ask you, our community members, to financially support our work — and I’m equal parts excited and terrified.
Since early 2018, I’ve been reporting in-depth stories about the Cowichan Valley, my home. And already, it’s been an incredible journey. My colleagues at The Discourse has pushed me to approach local news in a different way, starting with a commitment to listen to this community without an agenda, so I can write stories that have real value to the people who live here.
You’ve been my greatest teachers and my greatest supporters. I’m often overwhelmed by the feedback I get from you. “I just wanted to reach out and let you know how much I appreciate each email you send out and the work that goes into them,” Pamela Williams wrote to me last week. “I look forward to reading them and set aside quiet time to do so, and let your words sink in. So often in today’s information-saturated world, I skim read. I approach your emails differently, as they bring me closer to the people in my community.”
These words fill me up. But for this work to be sustainable, I need you to help pay for it. Right now in Cowichan, it’s just me reporting on the ground from the community, with support from our small team in Vancouver. We’ve been able to do this so far by bootstrapping and with startup funding The Discourse raised from value-aligned investors and partners. (Read more about where our money comes from and what we spend it on, here.) These people bet on us because they believe we can build a community around our work who will contribute to our journalism, too.
So, what do you say? Will you tell the Cowichan Valley and the world that our community-powered journalism is worth paying for?
Over the coming year, your support will pay for:
- Weekly newsletters that inform and connect our community. We strive to deliver information and analysis that gets to the heart of what the Cowichan Valley is talking about right now.
- In-depth reporting, driven by you. All Discourse investigations start with our journalists asking what you want to know about. This summer, we’ll be digging into the worrisome environmental changes affecting Cowichan’s land and water. In the fall, expect federal election coverage that is truly local, for a change. After that? You tell me.
- Events that bring us together. At The Cowichan Discourse, we invite people with different perspectives to join the conversation, so we’re not just preaching to the choir.
I’m looking for people in the Cowichan Valley to step up and become monthly supporters. The Discourse’s goal is to reach 1,000 monthly supporters across our three communities by June 15. This won’t pay for all the work that my team and I do, but it will be a major milestone that says we’re on the right track — that the people of Cowichan care about our journalism and want to keep The Cowichan Discourse around.
I believe we can do it. I know you feel overlooked and underserved by mainstream media, and are craving something different and better, because I’ve heard it from you.
The Cowichan Discourse doesn’t have a paywall because we want our journalism to be available for everyone. But that model only works if those who can afford to pay, actually do. It matters to me that my work is community-funded because that keeps me accountable to you, not advertisers. It means I’ll never have to go chasing clickbait or empty sensationalism — only stories that bring real value to the people of Cowichan.
ICYMI: Highlights from a year of The Cowichan Discourse
- Last June, The Cowichan Discourse published an investigation into allegations that the Cowichan Valley Citizen was avoiding critical coverage of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit because of an advertising relationship with the racetrack’s owners. After my story was published, the Citizen resumed coverage of the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association’s complaints against the track.
- In October, we published a handful of stories that aimed to help people understand the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s referenda on affordable housing and watershed protection, including a fact check of questionable information on the housing issue that had been widely shared via Facebook.
- In December, we published a handy guide for getting involved in local development decisions, as part of our community-powered series on growth and change in the Cowichan Valley.
- Since February, The Cowichan Discourse has led a community-inspired conversation focused on mental health and addictions in the Cowichan Valley. For me, it got personal — and why wouldn’t it, with so many people in our community affected? Also, check out my story about these incredible teens who are advocating for better mental-health support for young people like them.
- In March, when a dog-abuse trial in the courts led to racist comments online, The Cowichan Discourse was there to call out local media for its role in the problem, and call on settler communities to do better.