The NB Media Co-op is among more than 20 media outlets from across the country that today launched Unrigged.ca, a platform featuring news and commentary from across the country.
It’s a response to the decision earlier this year by Meta, the social media giant, to shut down Canadian news on Facebook and Instagram.
Meta began blocking Canadian news content after the federal government passed the Online News Act (C-18), which requires digital companies to compensate news organizations for journalistic content shared on their platforms.
The corporate backlash means that it’s harder than ever for grassroots media organizations like the NB Media Co-op to reach their audiences.
Overnight, the NB Media Co-op lost access to nearly 5,000 followers on Facebook. (So far, our Instagram account hasn’t been affected by the changes.)
Google has also stated that it will block Canadian news.
“Google and Facebook control a huge amount of Canadians’ online attention,” said Kevin Taghabon, co-founder of The Hoser, an independent publication serving the Toronto area.
“Those companies’ reaction to Bill C-18 showed how vulnerable we are to the whims and financial interests of a few billionaires — it’s time to unrig how we access information about our communities.”
Unrigged highlights journalism produced by non-profit news outfits from across the country, which have collaborated on the project in the wake of C-18.
“We hope this will be just the first of many experiments to develop new platforms and take back control of our attention and what’s worthy of it,” said Gabrielle Brassard-Lecours, a co-founder of Quebec online news outlet Pivot.
In addition to the NB Media Co-op, current members of Unrigged include:
- Ricochet in British Columbia
- The Maple and The Progress Report in Alberta
- Briarpatch and The Sask Dispatch in Saskatchewan
- The Hoser, Upping the Anti, Midnight Sun and The Grind in Ontario
- Harbinger, À bâbord, The Rover and Co-op de Solidarité Pivot in Québec
- The Independent in Newfoundland
- National publishers The Breach Media, The Resolve, The Media Co-op, Canadian Dimension and PressProgress.
Together, the outlets have a Canadian audience numbering more than one million people.
The 20 founding members are in active talks with a number of other publications and potential supporters, to expand the scope and deepen regional coverage.
The initial group was established thanks to a network of relationships reaching from Victoria, B.C. to St. John’s, N.L.
“Journalists are an independent and busy bunch, so it can be hard to get them on the same page,” said Romy Garrido, the Calgary-based publisher of Press Progress. “But for Unrigged, the disastrous response to the Online News Act has really been a catalyst for collaboration.”
Unrigged aims to double its membership to 40 by the end of 2024.
–With files from Unrigged.ca.