Thursday, March 5, 2015

Don't Like the News, Crowdfund Your Own

Something remarkable is happening in Canada right now. Something that will change the future of news media.

On Friday February 13th, 2015, Sun News Network went dark, as did the jobs of about 200 employees, including very talented people like Ezra Levant, Brian Lilley, and Faith Goldy. Sun News was often called Canada's FOX News, featuring news and analysis from a conservative point-of-view, serving as a balance to very liberal leaning Canadian news outlets.

The shutdown was not unexpected. Sun's eventual downfall started in August of 2013, just two years after the network debuted. Unlike it had for the CBC and CTV, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) denied it a spot on basic cable TV packages nationwide. This severely limited the amount of viewers Sun could attract. From Globe and Mail's Steve Ladurantaye:

The unprofitable (and controversial) channel won’t get any financial help from Canada’s broadcast regulator, throwing its future into doubt just two years after it went to air with a promise of “hard news and straight talk.”
The controversial all-news channel hoped to be forced onto basic digital television subscriptions across the country, but the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission rejected its application despite the channel’s insistence that its heavy reliance on Canadian content made it a logical fit for wide distribution.
The channel is losing about $17-million a year, and its executives vowed to pull the plug if it didn’t receive the designation.

The next nail in Sun's coffin, October 2014. From Huffington Post Canada's Sunny Freeman:

The struggling Sun News Network suffered another blow this week after Canada’s broadcast regulator ruled against it in a payment dispute with Rogers, the country’s largest cable company.
The CRTC sided with Rogers in hearings to determine how much the cable company should pay Sun News, which says it is fighting for all news services to be treated fairly,regardless of their editorial stance.
The decision denies the financially troubled news network a deal that would have helped to shore up future revenue for the channel, which has run up losses in the $16-million to $18-million range annually.

After years of uphill battles, and unsuccessful negotiations to sell the network, Sun, set.

But out of the ashes of Sun News Network, a Phoenix is rising.

It all started with a tweet:

And a YouTube video by Ezra Levant called: "Help us crowdfund"

And with that, The Rebel was born.

A true rebel.  A rebel not started by a major media conglomerate or Fortune 500 business.  A rebel built by other rebels, Canadians tired of their liberal media.

In what can only be described as remarkable, The Rebel is crowdfunding an entire news network, and asking people to help fund everything from cameras, microphones, and lights to hosts, producers, and editors.

Crowdfunding cameras:

Crowdfunding reporters:

Even crowdfunding Red Bull and pizza for the staff

Quite quickly, the essentials of a news network are being assembled.

Again, Ezra Levant, with a crowdfunding update:

All of this should scare the heck out of the mainstream media, in any country.  Here in America, we are seeing the dinosaur media with record low viewership, while alternative online news sources are thriving.  No longer do people have to rely on the traditional gatekeepers of media.  And as The Rebel in Canada is showing, people will help pay for quality, accurate journalism.  This is a fantastic thing that should, and will, be replicated, a lot.