Giving the Power of Journalism Back to the People


Fair warning up top: yes this editorial ends with an appeal to donate to our Patreon. We recently re-launched our crowdfunding page, and I’d like to tell you about it. But in a wider sense, I want to talk about the new direction of the magazine, and how the fundraising appeal fits into that. I want to talk about journalism, and the role journalism can play in building a community, and the role a community can play in building journalism.

Local journalism is essential to building a functioning democracy, and—perhaps even more than that—a functioning community. It’s how people find out about their world and their city. They discover events to go to, they learn about local movers and shakers, they get a wider sense of what’s going on in their community, and they feel empowered and inspired to take action to make it better.

But for a long time, there has been a strange disconnect between this role, and the way it’s actually funded. Any business ultimately serves at the pleasure of the people who pay for it—and in journalism’s case, that has overwhelmingly meant advertisers. The people who need journalism are almost an afterthought, compared to the people who pay the bills.

This is only getting worse as advertising dollars start to shrink. The advertisers who remain are gaining more and more control over content. We are proud to be one of the only publications in Peterborough that doesn’t do ‘advertorial’—paid content masquerading as news articles. It’s profitable, but we believe it’s disingenuous, and, worse, it doesn’t serve the basic role of journalism: to inform people about their community.

Instead, we’ve decided to lean into that role. We want to tell stories about this community, and now, we’re creating more opportunities for the community to be a part of that. We’re hosting a series of events where community members can speak to us directly, to tell us the stories that matter to them and that they want to see covered.

What do you see in your everyday life in this community that’s not being talked about by local media? What’s good in this community? What’s bad? What needs fixing? We want to hear from you, and we want to write about it. If we want Electric City Magazine to represent this community, this community should be a part of its creation.

But (and here comes the pitch), if we are going to put the storytelling role of journalism back into the hands of the community, we must also call on the community to assist with the funding role as well. Electric City Magazine is and always will be free to read—we never want to prevent people from learning about their community—but, for those with the financial means and the passion for it, we are calling on you to help out.

Giving to our Patreon will support the magazine, but it will also give you a role in shaping the magazine, through up-close-and-personal events where you can speak directly to the editors and writers of the paper about what you want to see in the paper. And, in addition to our general fund, we’ve also set up four themed Patreons, allowing you to direct your funds towards the topics that you believe are most important.

These four themes—Deepening Democracy, Environmental Stewardship, Gender Equity, and Inclusion and Accessibility—were identified in meetings and discussions with community members as particularly important in Peterborough and in the modern world, and we want to explore them in-depth. This means more stories in the magazine, as well as hosted community discussions, speakers, multimedia, and more.

We want to put the power of journalism back into the hands of the people, and, as a great 20th century philosopher once said, with great power comes great responsibility.

Head over to our Patreon page, where you can find out more about the rewards and why we’re doing this, as well as links to our themed Patreons. If you’re so inclined, we hope you’ll give generously, and participate in making this magazine. Help us to change the story, and change our city.

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