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The Independent gets a grassroots boost

By: | November 23, 2016

‘Friends of The Independent’ to hold inaugural meeting Wednesday in St. John’s with goal of building a grassroots movement to support independent journalism in the province.

The Independent's recent on-the-ground coverage of the Indigenous-led Muskrat Falls resistance in Labrador is a clear example of the potential for independent media in N.L., says Daniel Miller. Photo by Janet Cooper.

A new group is forming to help make independent journalism in Newfoundland and Labrador a long-term reality.

‘Friends of The Independent’ will hold its inaugural meeting Wednesday evening in St. John’s with the goal of making The Independent a “sustainable, permanent and powerful part of our communities and democracy,” community activist and organizer Daniel Miller wrote in a public Facebook post last week.

Miller, a former volunteer board member of The Independent Media Inc., the non-profit that runs the non-editorial side of The Independent, said the publication’s recent coverage of the Indigenous-led Muskrat Falls resistance in Labrador inspired him to try and organize a grassroots effort to support the Indy financially.

“The coverage of Muskrat Falls changed our conversations. It connected us in a deep and personal way to the people at the heart of the issue. It motivated us to act,” he wrote. “I truly believe that if we had…more of this type of journalism in our province it would make our movements for a better province and world a thousand times stronger.

I  truly believe that if we had…more of this type of journalism in our province it would make our movements for a better province and world a thousand times stronger. — Daniel Miller

“Imagine if we had daily live tweets and long-form journalism and live Facebook streams focused on N.L.’s feminist movement, the N.L. oil industry as it relates to climate change, the upcoming school board elections, the House of Assembly, the student movement, the struggles and and hopes and ingenuity of rural N.L., the LGBTQ movement, racism and anti-racism, the struggles of the working class against austerity,” Miller continued.

“This is a meeting for anyone who wants to help mobilize our communities to fund The Independent and its progressive, grassroots journalism. We will pool our ideas, time and talents to build widespread grassroots financial support.”

The grassroots effort to support indie media comes as The Independent prepares to launch a new online fundraising campaign to pay full-time reporter and editor Justin Brake a living wage and Independent contributors a stipend for their important contributions.

The Independent will continue fundraising so that we can keep publishing the kind of news and commentary we know is critical to our province’s future, but having grassroots support could be the boost we need to reach the critical milestone of making the Indy sustainable,” said Brake.

“It has been a struggle to keep the Indy going over the past few years as a non-profit media outlet, but I think more people in the province are realizing how important having our own independent media outlet is, particularly at a time when corporate and other mainstream news outlets are suffering from plummeting advertising revenues, budget cuts and diminishing newsrooms,” he added.

“Investigative journalism is suffering in Newfoundland and Labrador these days, but if everyone pitches in a little bit we can lay a solid foundation on which to build our own media outlet — one that tells important stories, holds politicians and other decision-makers to account, and gives a voice to those often left out of mainstream news coverage.”

Miller said Friends of The Independent will mobilize to support The Independent’s fundraising campaigns, and between campaigns “we’ll still work to build a movement of Indy supporters,” he added.

“Thousands of people in Newfoundland and Labrador want The Independent to be a permanent part of our communities. So we will come together and ask: ‘How can we mobilize sustained support for this important grassroots institution?’ And then we will work together to make it happen.”

Friends of The Independent’s inaugural meeting will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Memorial University’s University Centre food court. For more information, and to join the grassroots effort, visit the Facebook event page.

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