When The Brief first began to circulate, I was just finishing university and living near my family in Sussex, NB. What a breath of fresh air it was to find that little broadsheet at Winter Wood Natural Foods. Other people really did care about the things that I had been studying and it was other New Brunswickers!
The NB Media Co-op has an online publication, and they also produce The Brief which includes three or four of the most popular recent stories. They send it by Canada Post all over the province ten times a year to local volunteers who distribute it to coffee shops, salons, garages, etc. This sharing strategy is really inclusive, since we know that rural internet is generally lagging behind urban levels of accessibility.
Looking for ways to contribute, in 2017 I volunteered for about six months delivering The Brief locally. At that point, I hadn’t even realized that there was an online publication. The website is regularly updated and full of archived content, which I now read regularly for background research on my projects. My hope was that I might someday get the confidence to start writing and reporting for the NB Media Co-op.
Eventually, I did. Since 2019 I have written about a half-dozen short articles of various types for the NB Media Co-op. Initially, I was pretty apprehensive about it. I really didn’t need to be, the editors helped me polish everything up and gave me tips on formatting.
In fact, one article that I wrote this spring on rural New Brunswick called “This Place is Paradise” had more than 15,000 views by more than 7,000 unique readers on the online. Not considering myself to be a writer, I was quite astounded that anything I had written could be shared so widely and that New Brunswickers were so passionate about rural issues.
Every month, more than 25,000 unique readers access hundreds of stories on the online publication, including new stories and articles from the 10-year archive. All online stories are shared on the Facebook page (3,200 followers to date) and some stories go out on Twitter (2,000 followers to date).
It seems to me that more people are looking for a diversity of information. They want media that is free from corporate control, accessible and addressing the immediate and powerful concerns of citizens.
At least twice this spring, reporters from mainstream media found articles published online by the NB Media Co-op and contacted the authors for interviews. The NB Media Co-op is a leader in grassroots media in this province. That is thanks to the many volunteer readers, writers and journalists like you that keep things relevant.
I write for the NB Media Co-op because I know that rural voices are important and deserve just as much media space as urban voices. I’m tired of reading about political squabbles and corporations in major newspapers. I want environmental and social issues to be “front page” news, because that is what matters in my life.
I reached out to some other occasional contributors with the question, “Why do you write for the NB Media Co-op?” and this is what I heard:
Julia Hansen – nurse and reproductive justice advocate: “I contribute to the NB Media Co-op because it provides a voice to an alternate perspective on life in New Brunswick, a perspective more in keeping with my own approach to life. It allows stories to be told that might not otherwise be told and for those stories to be told from a perspective that is ignored, oppressed, or silenced by mainstream media. It allows for non-hierarchical connection, education, and empowerment of those communities and individuals in NB through a lens of social justice.”
Adje Prado – Environment and Climate Change Adaptation Specialist: “The NB Media Co-op adds alternative and diverse voices to important discussions in New Brunswick that might otherwise get drowned out by publications with narrower views. While those in urban centers can more easily find others that share progressive ideologies, it can still be easy for many of us living across this rural province to feel alone and isolated. Writing an article for the “Letters from New Brunswick’s Future” felt like a good way to take part in spreading a hopeful message.”
Drew Gilbert – Arts Educator and Off-Grid Homesteader: “I write for the Media Co-op because it is a grassroots media outlet that publishes stories and articles that matter to many of us. The articles are written by people who care about the topics they cover. They are not just doing it as a job, but to have a voice to speak out with. I write for the Media Co-op because it is not owned by a media corporation, and they will not tell me what to write about. The Media Co-op writers and its readers care about honest stories, with integrity, research and heart. That is why I will continue to write for them”.
If you are looking for ways to contribute other than writing, we are often looking for people to help distribute The Brief. You can contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. If you are interested in writing for the NB Media Co-op, you can find out how to get started by visiting our Share a Story page. You can also receive support by contacting the editorial team at email@example.com. We hope to hear about what matters to you soon.
Amy Floyd is Taymouth Resident, Rural Advocate and Senior Food Security Policy Analyst with NB Media Coop partner the RAVEN Project (Rural Action and Voices for the Environment). The RAVEN Project was created to engage with rural communities and learn about what matters to them by promoting grassroots media.