Five years ago, the founders of the NB Media Co-op stayed up all night to fill the pages of our news website in time for a New Brunswick Day 2009 launch. Days before, we had gathered with excitement as the boxes of the first edition of The Brief arrived. We were perhaps over-ambitious with our launch date and our desire to immediately start covering under-reported stories. We somehow crammed six stories into our first one-page broadsheet edition of The Brief. We launched the NB Media Co-op at Fredericton’s Wilmot Park, showing off our fancy banner, distributing The Brief, painting faces of kids and taking our first memberships.
The NB Media Co-op was formed in 2009 following a successful New Brunswick Social Forum in 2008 in Fredericton where 200 people rooted in a variety of social movements gathered under the hopeful banner, Another New Brunswick and World are Possible. Following the adage, “Don’t Hate the Media, Be the Media,” we did just that and the NB Media Co-op was born months later.
The founders of the NB Media Co-op chose the not-for-profit co-operative model as they felt it to be the most democratic model for producing and disseminating media. Free from the constraints of the profit motive, advertisers and state funding, the NB Media Co-op is able to tell stories on the side of people without fear of censorship. We cover stories from the perspectives of those ignored or misrepresented in our corporate media. We aim to combat the anti-worker sentiment found in corporate media and the effects that it has on public policies and the lives of workers.
Over the years, we’ve told stories that the corporate and state media refused to tell. We’ve helped cultivate journalists so that they can tell the stories of their own lives through words and photographs. We’ve also uncovered the many forgotten beautiful moments of our history when the people of Wabanaki or New Brunswick stood up for equality and justice for themselves, their neighbours and for people all over the world. We’ve organized insightful talks and panel discussions on the media’s coverage of current events and social problems with activists, thinkers and trained journalists.
In a province with a virtual media monopoly in the local news market, and where major news networks are understaffed and have to focus on issues that will draw a broad audience from all major regional municipalities, the NB Media Co-op has found a niche covering local struggles and events that the bigger players are unable or unwilling to delve into.
Some of our memorable stories and thoughtful commentary have included:
- the plight of the people of rural Penobsquis who blame the loss of their well water to potash mining and bad air days to Corridor’s gas operations;
- why Tobique residents took over the hydro-dam on their territory;
- large mobilizations against the proposed sale of NB Power;
- the inspiring Idle No More, Occupy and student movements that resonated with and mobilized New Brunswickers;
- pay equity demands for workers in group home, home support, childcare and transition home sectors;
- the death of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the closure of the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic and the ongoing fight for accessible reproductive health care in New Brunswick;
- how a St. Thomas University student backed by fellow students and faculty shone the light on inequalities and violence experienced by trans people;
- the story of Roger LeBlanc, a sick miner from Eel River Crossing who is demanding compensation for workplace illness after decades of work at the Brunswick lead and zinc smelter in Belledune;
- the brave actions being taken in the face of abuses of Canadian mining companies by visitors to our region from Guatemala, El Salvador, the Philippines, Kanaky and Indonesia;
- small acts of resistance and efforts at alternative ways of living like those of Fredericton community organizers to keep their posters on poles and save the north side berry fields, Sackville’s Open Sky Cooperative that gives organic gardening to people with mental health challenges and Moncton’s La Bikery Co-operative;
- the city of Fredericton’s cuts to fire fighting services;
- critical analysis of the New Brunswick government’s poverty reduction strategy;
- New Brunswick connection’s to Colombian blood coal;
- Canada’s role in the coup of Haiti‘s democratically-elected government and Canada’s complicity in ongoing war crimes in Gaza.
The NB Media Co-op is a labour of political commitment, public service and hope for a more humane world. It’s a labour that we share with dozens of volunteers at any given time. They include: editors, writers, photo/video/audio journalists, board members (we’re an incorporated non-profit co-operative), a website whiz, university student interns, labour unions that financially contribute and all those working behind-the-scenes–those asking people to become a member and donate, those sharing our stories on Facebook and Twitter, and those hitting the streets to distribute The Brief throughout the province of New Brunswick. We thank all of you!
We share this five year experience with many unforgettable people covered in our stories and with our readers. Thank you for sharing your stories and thank you for reading.
Not a member yet or is it time to renew? Sign up here.
Of course there is still lots of room to grow and improve as a media outlet. Join us and help us make it happen. We welcome your story ideas, news stories and commentaries, editing and fact-checking skills, social media likes, shares and retweets, and distribution of The Brief at our still fledgling co-op. We meet monthly at story meetings in Fredericton. Get in touch if you would like to join any of these efforts. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to join us at this year’s Annual General Meeting scheduled for the evening of Monday, September 29th in Fredericton. We will review some of our most important stories of the past year with those whose lives have been touched the most. Stay tuned. We may even go for a celebratory drink afterwards.
Thanks again and here’s to another five years!