The Tyee Begins Fundraising for Improved Election Coverage

B.C. publication hopes to raise  $50,000 to pay for a voter’s guide to provincial election


The Tyee’s news and politics editor, Paul Willcocks. In an e-letter Nov. 28, Willcocks asked Tyee readers to help fundraise the media outlet’s efforts to cover the 2016 B.C. provincial election. (Submitted photo: Paul Willcocks)

The Tyee Begins Fundraising for Improved Election Coverage
B.C. publication hopes to raise $50,000 to pay for a voter’s guide to provincial election
Braden Klassen, Contributor

The Tyee, an internet publication based in Vancouver, announced on Nov. 21 that they are fundraising for an upcoming election project called “BC in the Balance: The Voter’s Deep Guide to the 2017 Election.” Their goal is to raise $50,000 through crowdfunding by Dec. 12,  approximately five months before the expected election date in May.

The purpose of the guide will be to inform B.C. voters about topics such as government transparency, education, housing, energy, and climate change. These topics are prioritized based on public-access polls that the publication has conducted on its website.

“In the lead-up to the 2017 B.C. election, we wanted the opportunity to take some time to do deep research and examine the record of the B.C. government,” says Jeanette Ageson, Chief Revenue Officer of the Tyee.

“We’ve had one party in power for a decade and a half, so it’s a very long record. We think that before all of the horserace political coverage begins, it would be a good idea to take stock of what’s happened over the past 15 years.”

The money that the Tyee raises will be put towards things like overhead, editors’ time, and processing data journalism. They have a three-week deadline to hit the $50,000 target, but they plan to continue with the project even if they do not reach that goal.

“We’ll still do something,” says Ageson, “But it won’t be to the extent that we had promised. If we don’t reach our goal, we’ll just need to prioritize which things are more important, and see what we can do and what we can’t do.”

The user survey on their site has consistently ranked “energy and climate change” as the topic they would like most to see researched and reported on.

“It’s kind of a broad topic,” Ageson says. “We would probably look at which issues, specifically in B.C., are related to climate change. I expect that we would do some deep research into LNG, how that affects our climate budget or our carbon budget, or the carbon tax and how B.C. relates to it.”

The voter’s guide is intended to be informative and to provide deeper coverage of election issues, which Ageson says would differentiate it from some other media publications that may not have the funding available to spend on a similar project.

“What’s usually attractive in election coverage is the day-to-day horserace and reporting on the latest polls,” she says. “That tends to be sort of like a quick hit thing you can do when reporting on elections that doesn’t take a lot of resources to do, and we realize that what we’re aiming to do is going to take a bit longer than that. That might be why it’s more of a rare thing.”

Ageson cited some of the media coverage of the recent American election as an example of the type of reporting that their voter’s guide could help British Columbians avoid.

“I think everyone has been seeing lately what damage can be done by rumours and fake news spreading like wildfire across social networks,” she says. “It’s our job to find facts and present them fairly and accurately, and what people do with that information is really up to them. I think it’s only positive, what can happen if you dig deep and put information into the hands of voters.”



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