New associations launch to fill a void in their sector. Here, Canadian media group Press Forward tells us what got them started, what they’re working on at the moment, and what they plan to do next.
The mission. The group was launched to unify and advocate for independent and community-based media organizations in Canada. “We saw a real void in the landscape for an association that brought together Canada’s independent news organizations,” Gilchrist said. “There are a bunch of other news associations, but none of them were specifically for the quickly growing sector of independents. The biggest thing we’re going to provide is a shared voice and a stronger voice on matters on journalism policy in Canada.”
Early work. Press Forward is working on building its membership, which consists of media organizations, rather than individuals. It also wants to determine which issues are most important to members.
Currently, the group is focusing on an international issue. An Australian law that would require companies like Facebook and Google to pay news organizations if they host their content caused Facebook to temporarily block Australian news links from being posted.
“It’s been playing out in Australia, and Canada is going to be the next jurisdiction where that debate is coming,” Gilchrist said. “Our position is that this is really complicated, and we need to be thinking about any unintended consequences of policy actions on that front. We also need to make sure that any renumeration that goes to news organizations actually supports journalists and doesn’t go to supporting shareholders or CEO compensation. Independents need to be considered in the conversation because we will be disproportionately negatively impacted if Google and Facebook decide to change how they deal with news in Canada.”
Next steps. While Gilchrist would love to have an in-person member meeting, she doesn’t think that will be possible anytime soon due to COVID-19 restrictions. Outside of that, “the main thing is building our membership and building the relationships between these outlets,” Gilchrist said. “We’re also going to be providing professional development for our members and elevating the work of those organizations.”