Last New Year’s Eve, I toasted to new beginnings and exciting changes that this year would bring. I don’t think I ever would have guessed what 2020 actually had in store for us. Despite everything that has happened, I still think there’s a lot to celebrate and be thankful for.
One thing I’m really happy about is my start at The Discourse and having the opportunity to connect with all of you through the West Shore This Week newsletter. Being able to deliver independent, in-depth, community-driven news has reinvigorated my passion for journalism at a time when I was starting to lose faith in the industry.
Since 2018, The Discourse has been experimenting in how to bring in-depth, community-led news to Vancouver Island. Those experiments began in the Cowichan Valley region, and the goal was to build something that could be looked to as a model, to make this kind of journalism available everywhere.
You can read more about the work in Cowichan, and how it has grown and inspired journalists across the country, in our report: The Best of The Discourse Cowichan 2020.
Why did The Discourse choose the West Shore? In part, it’s a natural expansion from the work in Cowichan. The Western Communities, like Cowichan Valley communities, are often overlooked by the media outlets concentrated in larger neighbouring cities.
It was also serendipity. Earlier this year, I was a reporter with Victoria News, living in Langford and looking for opportunities to tell deeper stories than daily news grind can offer. I applied for a job with IndigiNews, a sister publication to The Discourse, as it expanded to Vancouver Island.
Through applying for that job, I connected with Jacqueline Ronson, who leads The Discourse Cowichan. She saw in me an opportunity to both boost resources in Cowichan and spread The Discourse’s reach to the West Shore. I saw an opportunity to do the kind of work that attracted me to journalism in the first place.
And so, in August, I joined the team.
Since then, The Discourse has published 15 weekly newsletters for the West Shore filled with local news, events and your photos. We’ve put out 48 stories for the West Shore looking at election issues, COVID-19, local history and more.
I loved learning and writing about Nelson Martins’ father, Fernando Martins, who played a large role in the construction of the infamous Deertrail Resort “ruins” in Sooke. I’ve always been fascinated by this structure and listening to Nelson speak about his late father and his memories was such a pleasure.
The many emails and correspondences I’ve received from you are proof that local, community news is deeply valued.
Rod says, “I think you and the team are creative and brave in this new way to circulate the news.”
Lydia sent me an email saying, “Your Discourse is very informative and that helps me learn more about our great community.”
As I so often mention in my newsletters, The Discourse is primarily supported by its readers. We want to be accountable to the communities we serve, and no one else.
We want to invest more resources in 2021 covering West Shore communities. We plan to dig deeper, tell more stories and launch investigations. Ultimately, though, what we are able to do depends on you. Will you step up today and become a supporter of The Discourse? Become a monthly contributor by Dec. 31 to make community-driven journalism possible.
In just a few months of reporting for The Discourse on the West Shore, we’ve already come so far. We couldn’t have done it without your support and I’m so grateful to be part of this awesome community.