The Tyee Has Big Plans

A little over two weeks ago, I started writing an email to The Tyee, Vancouver’s independent online news magazine.
It was the last night of the site’s $100,000 crowdfunding campaign to help it expand its coverage nationally, and it looked like it was about to fall short.

With about five hours to go before midnight, a little more than $70,000 had been raised in three weeks. I wanted to ask what would be done with the pledged money, and if the site would still be pushing forward with its plans to expand.

I never sent the email, deciding to wait the night out instead.

And then something happened.

Within the last hours of the campaign, readers pitched in enough money to bring the total to nearly $103,000 come the next morning. The goal had been met.

“I went to sleep feeling really good about raising $75,000. I thought we’d go from there and keep chipping away,” The Tyee founder and editor-in-chief David Beers told The Link.

“I was flabbergasted when I saw what happened,” he said.

A late-night push on social media made those interested in contributing flock to the site in order to donate.

The Tyee has been no stranger to raising money via crowdfunding during its 10-year existence. In 2009, it asked readers to choose which issues they wanted to see covered during the provincial elections and to donate accordingly. In 10 days, almost $25,000 was pledged.

Besides its scale, the nature of the site’s most recent campaign was the same as previous ones: offering a specific, tangible outcome.

“I think The Tyee has a proven identity now,” said Beers.

“When you tell people you would like to do more of what you already do, it’s the kind of proposition they seem to appreciate.”

So now that the goal has been met, what comes next?

The money raised by the campaign will be delivered in monthly pledges—the average donation being $100 over a year—so the site’s expansion will be a gradual build over time.

The first step will be establishing the “The Tyee National Pool,” a network of established reporters and columnists from around the country.

“That’s 30 new perspectives and voices that will be given a platform,” said Beers.

The goal of having one full-time national affairs reporter in Ottawa is also in the works, though it may take longer to accomplish.

As for the website itself, the objective is to not lose the current look and feel that’s made it a success, garnering between 800,000 and 1 million page views per month.

“It will take a little while to design some navigational aspects of the website, but someone reading from B.C. won’t notice a difference. We’re not pulling back on any of that coverage,” said Beers.

With its main page staying focused on covering issues related to British Columbia, a new page called The Tyee National will eventually surface.

The “fair amount” of national content already on the site will be tagged as such, as will any content coming from the new pool of reporters and columnists.

Beers founded The Tyee in 2003 after growing dissatisfied with the media landscape in B.C. and across the country.

“We knew there wasn’t enough diversity and that we wanted to broaden and deepen the conversation. But we didn’t know if it could be sustained,” he said about the website’s early days.

More than 1,100 people helped sustain that mission by pledging last month to help The Tyee go national.

“I think this shows that there are a lot of people who feel that what’s said in the media matters,” Beers said.

“It’s an important vote of confidence in what we’re doing.”

Link Radio | Dec. 5, 2013 »

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