Feed The ’Dog

Now more than ever local media needs community support

25 Media | by Mitch Diamantopoulos

Ask not what your city paper can do for you, ask what you can do for your City.

I don’t know what to get Prairie Dog for its birthday. What do you get a paper that’s got everything: smart and stylish writing, contemporary and progressive city sensibilities, hard-hitting social critique and helpful hints for living the high life  — from food to festivals to the music, art and literary scenes?

Shrug.

I finally figured the best gift in these times of uncertainty for journalism would be financial security. That’d help its staff and freelancers sleep and write well, reach yet higher and publish even more great journalism.

(And like all truly great gifts, I’d end up getting to enjoy it too!)

Journalism’s Next Reality

If you’re a fan of Britain’s The Guardian you may know they now generate more revenue from their readers than their advertisers. That’s the path of the future for viable news outlets. In this wired new world of the 21st century, excellent journalism is increasingly going to rely on reader and community support.

With this country’s media chains continuing to divest from Regina newsrooms, community re-investment is more important than ever to journalism’s Queen City future. Since this community mobilized against newsroom layoffs and a lack of viewpoint diversity by launching Prairie Dog in 1993, the legacy media have laid off hundreds more city reporters. Those cuts are not over.

But we can do something about it, just like Guardian readers have in the U.K. We pay taxes to run the CBC or school our kids or fund our libraries. Why not make a small contribution to keeping independent, community-based journalism alive and thriving at home? Like all those other public services, critical journalism and real media diversity are an important part of civic literacy’s infrastructure. Like a university, a free press is a down payment on a better, more democratic future for us all.

Adopt A Dog?

If you love Prairie Dog, why not consider adopting the paper’s cause in its anniversary year?

Together we can advance the important project of cutting-edge alt-city journalism, with well-paid staff and freelancers getting cheques on time for a change.

After all, Prairie Dog has brought us news, views and reviews for free for 25 years. Hustling ads used to make that possible. Now that ad markets are in transition, you can help the paper carry on that important work.

In fact, if we rallied to our own city mag like those Guardian fans did, the community-based co-op that publishes the ’dog would be able to add staff, expand pages and introduce even more great features. Wouldn’t it be super if Prairie Dog could hire some displaced journalists and young journalism graduates? Wouldn’t you love to see full-time Prairie Dog reporters scouting the arts, legislature and city hall beats? Wouldn’t it be great for city journalism to bring in some new blood, including a more representative workforce and freelance pool? Who wouldn’t like to see more investigative reporting into our most urgently pressing social problems and the policy alternatives and social innovations that can really address them?

Together, we can do all these things.

Of course, that kind of reader-driven expansion takes money… but if every Prairie Dog reader threw in $25 (a mere dollar for each year of free papers so far), that’d drum up a million and a half bucks by my math. That’d steady the ship in choppy waters. It’d ensure staff and freelancers are better and faster paid. And it’d give us all the gift of a much bigger, much better and much bolder city paper. That would change everything.

That’s why, if I were independently wealthy, there’d be a million dollar cheque in the mail to help our caped crusaders embark on greater feats of public mischief. Sadly for me (and the ’dog) I don’t fit this category, but perhaps a few of you do?

What am I going to give Prairie Dog for its birthday? I haven’t yet won the lottery so the million dollars is out for now (I must remember to buy a ticket). I’m just a guy who loves Prairie Dog, and the crazy, smart, determined idealists who make it happen every two weeks. They’re the Beatles to me. That’s why my wife and I sent them as big a cheque as we could muster. It’s also why I’m writing them this letter to thank the dogs for their hard work and commitment over the years and to pledge our support over the next 25.

You should too.

Mitch Diamantopoulos is a recovering founder of Prairie Dog. He’s currently an Associate Professor at the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. For more information on all the great perks for Prairie Dog subscribers and supporters, visit prairiedogmag.com/support.