The last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect back on a year that has been equal parts challenging and inspiring.
As The Discourse Cowichan’s founding reporter, I have been working to build in-depth local news for my community for nearly three years. It started as an experiment, a part-time freelance contract to offer in-depth coverage in the place I live.
This community told me to keep going, so I did. Now, The Discourse Cowichan is so much bigger than one reporter doing her best to tell local stories that matter.
This year, in spite of a global pandemic and a collapse in local news, more than 500 community members stepped up with financial contributions to make sure this work can continue.
What did that support make possible? To mark an extraordinary year, we’ve compiled all of our wins in our first ever impact report.
In the report, you’ll find key highlights and milestones of our last 11 months. In March we brought on Jared Qwustenuxun Williams to tell stories about First Nations history and culture, inspired by the curiosity of this community. Reporter David Minkow deepened his coverage of social issues in Duncan, tracking impacts and solutions for people on the streets through COVID-19. Our new staff reporter, Shalu Mehta, dug into food security issues, election coverage, pandemic need-to-know info and more. We supported four student interns in a year when many internships were cancelled.
Through it all, our guiding light: Providing the Cowichan Valley community with the news and information it needs to get through a pandemic, to build back stronger, to understand each other better and support one another.
The work here in the Cowichan Valley has had ripple effects across Vancouver Island, across B.C. and across the country. Discourse Media’s family is growing. Its network now counts 41 journalists making local news available to five million people in 22 underserved communities in Canada. Those new and growing publications are looking to Cowichan as a model for the future of independent local journalism.
The support of this community is already making a huge difference, in Cowichan and beyond. We have shown this year that a new, brighter future for local news is possible, and we are committed to continuing to do that work.