Dear Tri-Cities Dispatch readers –
Local news is in trouble across Canada. Local stories and issues aren’t being told as news outlets focus more on generating money than the communities they serve.
We at the Tri-Cities Dispatch, a nonprofit news outlet, believe it’s possible to create impactful local journalism without the need to maximize profits. But we can’t do this without input from readers like you.
Over the last three weeks, over 800 Tri-Cities residents shared ideas for building a truly local nonprofit news outlet. Now, we’re excited to share the results.
You told us you wanted a truly local outlet, that puts transparency front and centre, covering under-reported issues and people and holds the powerful in our society accountable.
These are the values we will use to guide our publication.
We also asked you what we should prioritize as part of our outlet.
Overwhelmingly, you want us to conduct investigative stories, that centre local issues and put community members first. You also don’t support a for-profit business model.
You also told us the major issues and topics our outlet should persue. There was overwhelming support for our journalists to cover under-reported people and communities, housing and development and how climate change and environmental issues impact the Tri-Cities.
Many outlets are experimenting with paywalls, which force people to pay to access critical local news.
We didn’t want to pursue a paywall because we believe money shouldn’t be a barrier – everyone should be able to access local news.
We were ecstatic to see you agreed – 83% of readers said we shouldn’t paywall our content. Rather, we should make it free and accessible for all.
We told you that in order to support local news, we would need to accept ads. We wanted to know what type of ads we should accept.
The response was overwhelming – 89% of you wanted us to only accept ads that did not violate our publications values.
We also asked you to submit ideas for local stories. Here are just a few you suggested:
“Art stories of local artists. Very unreported right now. Also individuals who do remarkable good will things. We need some good news.”
“Culture, heritage and cultural diversity. It’s important to know the history of the land where we live, and acknowledge our heritage, while at the same time, being that we are multicultural community, the more we know about our diversity and the rich cultural heritage of all our neighbours, the stronger, and richer we will be as a community.“
“I really liked the story about Mary – the nurse who was killed in the New West Pen. Maybe other historical stories – like Ioco (alot of people don’t know what it stands for) or Maillardville? I like the stories on new property developments probably because my daughter wants to purchase in the Tri-cities and can’t yet afford it.“
In the coming days we’ll be sharing updates about our outlet, including our statement of values and perks for becoming a member, and a brand new website. We’ll also share two local community issues, as selected by you, that our journalists will cover in the coming months.
All of this is to support our mission – publish local, under-reported stories about the community we call home.
Local community news and journalism can only succeed if readers like you contribute. We know times are difficult, and we wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.
But to build a truly local outlet of in-depth journalism, one that covers under-reported local issues, keeps stories free and accessible for all, and challenges the powerful, we need reader suppport.
Please consider donating today to support local news today. You’ll receive some awesome perks, including a special behind-the-scenes newsletter, free access to future events and eventually discounts at local businesses.
But most importantly, you’ll fund our journalists and keep our stories free and available to everyone.
As news struggles, we believe local nonprofit news can serve the Tri-Cities. With your help, we can make it happen.
– The Tri-Cities Dispatch team