Dear NB Media Co-op members, supporters and readers,
First, we want to thank all of you for the support and love given to the NB Media Co-op during March, our Membership Month. We are happy to announce that we have surpassed our target of raising $2,000 this month. We have signed up 18 new members this month -and counting. We are getting very close to doubling our fundraising target so if you are not already a member, please join/donate your local media co-op today.
Sign up in March and you could win a subscription to the fiercely independent Briarpatch. Funds given to the NB Media Co-op go towards publishing The Brief and maintaining our news website. Every dollar gets us one step closer to realizing our dream of paying our journalists for their work.
Why is the NB Media Co-op crucial?
In New Brunswick, like elsewhere, the media landscape is dominated by one corporation. However, we have a situation where the media as well as dominant industries, such as oil, forestry and manufacturing, is controlled by one of the Irving group of companies.
The Irving empire is in need of serious public scrutiny and investigative journalism. But, J.D. Irving Ltd. owns Brunswick News Inc., which owns every English daily newspaper (Telegraph Journal, Times & Transcript, The Daily Gleaner) as well as several community papers (Miramichi Leader, Victoria Star and Kings County Record). Acadia Broadcasting, owned by another Irving company, runs about a dozen radio stations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
What’s good for Irving is . . .
What many of us sense as a problem with our media is backed by careful analysis of Irving’s reporting. Researchers like Erin Steuter (Mount Allison University) have found that the Irving media often presents the view that what’s good for an Irving company is good for the province. We beg to differ.
The NB Media Co-op is one of the only media outlets in the province that regularly publishes news critical of Irving. Our stories include critical pieces on J.D. Irving’s gypsum mine in Upham that contravened provincial regulations and J.D. Irving’s ongoing unpopular practice of spraying public forests with glyphosate, a potential carcinogen. When J.D. Irving wanted to mine Bald Mountain in Maine, concerned folks in Aroostook County turned to sources like us for critical stories about Irving’s practices, stories that they would not find in the Irving newspapers.
Irving companies are private companies so there is less information available to the public about the companies than what’s available for publicly-traded companies. How this is a problem was highlighted during the recent hearings where Irving unsuccessfully sought to increase its fuel prices. Irving refused to disclose important information about their business practices that the public should know. After being pressed for this information by people with the anti-poverty group, the Common Front for Social Justice, CUPE and Grassroots NB, Irving chose to withdraw their application. We all won by not having to pay higher fuel prices, but we have yet to win the information battle when it comes to Irving’s business practices.
Our province is home to two Irving billionaires, Arthur Irving and James Irving, men made super rich off the backs of their workers and by not paying their fair share of taxes. Meanwhile, our province is home to staggering child poverty rates and alarming cancer rates linked to big industry.
Enter the NB Media Co-op
The NB Media Co-op was formed in 2009 following a successful New Brunswick Social Forum the year before in Fredericton, where 200 people gathered under the hopeful banner, “Another New Brunswick and World are Possible.” We all recognized we had one common problem: the media in New Brunswick. We formed a working group on the media and decided that the cooperative model was the way to go.
Why are we a co-op?
We didn’t want to rely on advertising or a corporate model that would force us to compete and compromise what we could publish. Just a year before our founding, we saw how Irving used aggressive legal tactics and was able to afford to slash their advertising prices to shut down the Carleton Free Press, a start-up newspaper in Woodstock – in what many believed was an attempt to preserve its media monopoly.
We are believers in the co-op model as we feel it to be a more democratic way to produce media. Our readers sustain us through a $30 annual membership fee or making donations, including monthly contributions. Unions representing various workforces in the province like CUPE, Unifor, PSAC, CUPW and the university faculty unions also financially support our work. If you can’t pay but want to be a member, just let us know. Many of us have been in the position where we can’t afford to pay for our media. We appreciate all forms of support.
We publish news stories and commentaries on our website, nbmediacoop.org, and in our bi-monthly broadsheet called The Brief that gets placed in cafes, shops, clinics and offices across the province. Every month, more than 25,000 unique readers access hundreds of stories on our website. You can keep abreast of what’s just been published on our site by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
Why should you support us?
Unlike corporate media, the NB Media Co-op doesn’t pretend to not have a bias. Our bias is on the side of the Indigenous land defenders and language protectors, Black Lives Matter, workers, the people made to stay poor because of punitive social assistance policies, students fighting for free education, tenants calling for safe and affordable housing, the people demanding reproductive choice and control over their own bodies, the people welcoming newcomers to our community, and all those making our communities more accessible, safe and healthier for everyone.
We need to author our own stories. While it is important to register our complaints about how the corporate media gets it wrong or excludes certain groups of people, we also need to take charge of our stories.
Being the media is about bearing witness and resisting everything that is awful in the world, and it’s about celebrating all that is beautiful. It’s about caring about people we are told to not care about, and about being mindful that when we talk about the land and natural resources, we, as treaty people, acknowledge that we are on the unceded Indigenous territory of the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey and Passamaquoddy, and do our best to honour the Peace and Friendship treaties. It’s about remembering the working-class heroes and people who stand up for their neighbours, whether across the street or across the globe, when they are being harmed. It’s about dispelling myths of there being a debate around climate change or racism that only serve to keep the oppressive and destructive status quo in place.
Many of us have pitched stories to the media, only to be ignored. Important stories. Stories like how Indigenous Wayuu and Afro-Colombian peoples in Colombia are being displaced and are dying because of the coal that is mined to be burned in Belledune to generate electricity. Imagine if the human impacts of the global supply chain of coal was subject to more investigative journalism. Would coal mining be less harmful? Would we have transitioned off of coal a long time ago given the climate crisis? Would Canada and Colombia have signed a foreign investor protection agreement that made it easier for Canadian mining, oil and gas companies to exploit Colombia’s resources? Would Colombia today not be the murder capital for human rights defenders?
Let’s cast a wider net for what is possible in this beautiful place we call home. The NB Media Co-op is dedicated to reminding us of the solidarity and love that exists between different groups of people, which is important when we are surrounded by a world of hurt. Let’s stop telling that same tired old story that New Brunswick is a backwards place -only good for a drive through, where the people never change or care. While we certainly have our many challenges, we also have a history and a present full of people who make this place a better place. So, let’s tell our own stories.
Support us in telling our own stories and sign up to become a member of the NB Media Co-op today.
Thank you for your support and take care,
Sarah, Aditya, Judy, Tracy, Sophie, Matthew, Daniel, Pete & Kylie
NB Media Co-op Board of Directors & Editorial Board