J-Source crowdfunding page. Photo by Alex Antoneshyn.

The creators of J-Source, a news outlet that covers issues in the Canadian media, are asking for their audience’s help once again as they work to expand their coverage.

J-Source publisher Chris Waddell said the donors’ support will be realized almost immediately.

“The people who have given money, and are giving money, will be able to see that their money is producing stories from freelance contributors very shortly,” he said.

Originally established under the Canadian Journalism Foundation in 2007, J-Source was almost entirely supported by the CJF until 2013. Then several other funders agreed to share the responsibility for the next three years – the time J-Source figured it would need to revitalize and improve its operations. During these years, the online publication twice turned to its readers, whose donations resulted in the new positions of associate editor and part-time business manager.

Now that those three years are nearing their end, J-Source is looking for audience support once again.

Crowdfunding is an alternative way to finance personal or professional projects through the support of donors. Although it was mostly used to finance musical or artistic ventures originally, outlets in the Canadian journalism industry are using it to provide free content to their audiences.

J-Source announced the beginning of its most recent crowdfunding effort in early December with the purpose of improving their regional coverage. The group is using Patreon, an online crowdfunding platform and their profile cites a changing media landscape as the reason for J-Source's need for financial help.

“(As) some news outlets consolidate or shut down, others are emerging to provide new kinds of coverage in new ways. With increased freelance coverage of eastern and western Canada, J-Source can explore theses issues in-depth, with the quality that you have come to expect,” read the post.

Considering the turbulence 2016 has brought Canadian journalists – including announcements of staff cuts at Postmedia and Rogers Media, the end of Guelph Mercury’s print edition, the closing of the Nanaimo Daily, and the Halifax Chronicle Herald strikers launching their own website, Local Xpress – J-Source might need the extra staff to keep up with the industry’s changes.

J-Source’s goal is to sustain monthly contributions of $500, but as of Feb. 3, 2016, J-Source was just one-fifth to their goal. Supported by 14 patrons (donors), their monthly total has only reached $101.94.

According to Waddell, support from the patrons will be used in a few different ways.

“We hope (for) several things. We always are looking for more contributions from journalism schools across the country and additionally, we hope to use that money to get more freelance contributions from outside of the Toronto and Ontario area,” said the publisher.

Freelance reporter Rob Tripp is one of J-Source’s supporters. He rationalizes the monthly payments by comparing it to other expenses.

“You know, we’re willing to go into Starbucks and spend four bucks for a grande latte. Why not send four or five bucks a month supporting some journalism?” he said. 

Canadaland, a website and podcast that offers commentary on Canadian media, is also funded through Patreon. The total of their monthly donations, however, is almost $12,000 from 2,500 patrons.

Tripp, who is also a Canadaland patron, sees a return on his investment in both media publications.

“I think I want to be part of the campaign to make journalism and content creation and news valuable so that it’s not simply viewed as a free commodity; if more people get on board with the micro-payment structure, then a lot of organizations and creators and independent journalists might be able to make some money,” said Tripp.

 

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