When I first heard about Ricochet, the proposed new bilingual media outlet that sells itself as a counterweight to “corporate” journalism, I wasn’t terribly excited. As someone who works as a journalist for the so-called “corporate” media, I’m well aware of its faults. I know that the drive to stay profitable has led to the blurring of lines between news and advertising, cost-cutting that has gone beyond cutting to the bone, and a hesitation to be too critical of the hand that feeds you.
So I welcome new voices. I want to see people investigate where others aren’t, to hold accountable people who aren’t used to being accountable.
But what bothered me about Ricochet was three things: First, its business model, based on crowdfunding and actually asking readers to pay for the journalism being produced, while also guaranteeing that everything that will be published will be free.
The second was the people behind it: Ethan Cox, who regularly goes back and forth between journalist and NDP/Projet Montréal political activist; Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesperson for the most radical student association during the student strike; and a host of others whose backgrounds include things like NDP candidate, Idle No More organizer, environmentalist, feminist, philosophy teacher, and the catch-all “activist”. Is this really an endeavour to create a new type of journalism, or is this about creating left-wing journalism, doing for the left what Sun News Network does for the right? (And if that’s the case, don’t we already have plenty of outlets like that, from Rabble to The Tyee?)
Finally, duplication. Why not join forces with The Tyee, or Rabble.ca, or any of the other socially progressive non-profit Canadian media outlets out there?
I spoke with Cox recently to ask him about his project and give him a chance to respond to my concerns.