A new association of independent news organizations has banded together with the aim of promoting a way forward for Canadian journalism.
Press Forward announced its launch on Wednesday and includes Village Media, which owns and operates the CollingwoodToday site and more than a dozen like it across Ontario.
"The need for community-focused journalism has become increasingly evident in our current climate. It is an exciting time for new and independent media organizations who are stepping up to the rewarding task of keeping communities safe and informed," said Jeff Elgie, president and CEO of Village Media. "Press Forward's work to advocate for this growing, innovative group across Canada will no doubt positively affect the future landscape of news in our country."
Press Forward says it is dedicated to ensuring people in Canada have access to strong, independent, and community-focused journalism. Its mission is to boost innovation, inclusivity and diversity in media across the country.
"Canada is ready for fresh approaches to journalism," said Jeremy Klaszus, editor-in-chief at The Sprawl in Calgary, in a news release. "Press Forward will help independent and community-focused news outlets build the future of Canadian journalism together, rather than trying to preserve the models of yesteryear."
The following is the full text of a news release issued on Wednesday by Press Forward:
TORONTO — Today marks the official launch of Press Forward, a new national association that aims to unify, elevate and advocate for independent journalism organizations in Canada.
Press Forward is dedicated to ensuring people in Canada have access to strong, independent, and community-focused journalism. Its mission is to boost innovation, inclusivity and diversity in media across the country.
"Press Forward is first and foremost about reinvigorating the relationship between readers and news organizations — a crucial component of developing sustainable business models for journalism," says Emma Gilchrist, editor-in-chief at The Narwhal and Chair of Press Forward.
Press Forward grew out of a three-day gathering of journalists and media development professionals in June 2019. Funded by the McConnell Foundation and Luminate, and organized by Journalists for Human Rights in partnership with the West End Phoenix, the conference brought together 45 individuals from media outlets, academia, foundations and nonprofits. The goal: to brainstorm a way forward in Canadian journalism, based on the needs identified by diverse, independent media themselves.
Following the gathering, a steering committee representing independent publishers across Canada was tasked with creating an association to represent Canada's independent media. Journalists for Human Rights incubated the project, with the support of a grant from the Trottier Family Foundation.
"The future of Canadian media lies in reader-supported, community-oriented independent journalism. This critical part of the media sector needed to organize to speak with a clear voice about the way forward for media in Canada," says Rachel Pulfer, executive director of Journalists for Human Rights. "JHR convenes media into organized networks overseas to make common cause and speak with one voice; in 2019, we saw a need to do the same at home. Press Forward is the result."
Press Forward will unify innovative, independent media organizations across Canada, advocate on behalf of the independent media sector and develop the skills of Canadian journalism entrepreneurs through professional development opportunities.
"Canada is ready for fresh approaches to journalism," says Jeremy Klaszus, editor-in-chief at The Sprawl in Calgary. "Press Forward will help independent and community-focused news outlets build the future of Canadian journalism together, rather than trying to preserve the models of yesteryear."