here is a lot of media in Toronto. The assertion from the rest of Canada that Torontonians perceive Toronto as “the centre of the world” is fair —if you’re on the top floor of a telecom giant, making decisions about what kind of content this city, and this country, deserve to see.
The reality of it is that media concentration in Toronto does not serve the people of Toronto. Frontline grocery store and healthcare workers do not benefit from foreign ownership of our legacy newspapers. People living in encampments do not benefit from bloviations about “responsible government” in Toronto. Land defenders and immigrant diaspora in the GTA do not benefit from vicious mining companies infamously headquartered on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The rage, tragedy, fighting spirit, and yes, world-class successes of the people in this city are not reflected in our media institutions. For decades, narratives centring the working class, race, 2SLGBTQ+ experiences, and all manner of non-mainstream stories have been ignored, or worse, chopped up for a day, presented, and abandoned by the media claiming to represent this city. There are of course exceptions, both through tireless reporters at legacy media institutions, and the smaller indie outlets that call Toronto home.
The failures of the mainstream press in chronicling the lives and struggles of ordinary people are the tip of the iceberg.
Media workers have existed within a collapsing industry for, arguably, almost a generation. The internet is not new. Throughout the emergence and entrenchment of online news, traditional media have routinely consolidated, shrunk their operations, or shut down entirely. Not only is this a massive disservice to the people of this country, but it is a dangerous trend that no amount of corporate capital is going to fix. Legacy media will never be as profitable as it once was under its current business model, and there is no incentive stronger than profit for these institutions. This is a devil’s bargain.
Our best legacy media outlets are owned by big foreign investors who know as much about on-the-ground news in the GTA as they know about the price of milk. Our public broadcaster, CBC, for all its essential work, has mistakes or omissions in their coverage on a regular basis. At the top, the CBC has been subject to right-wing institutional drift for decades, most accelerated during Stephen Harper’s tenure as Prime Minister.
In March we saw how Huffington Post Canada decided to shut down their entire operation immediately after a successful unionization campaign. On the cusp of creating a better working regime for Canadian journalists, the company decided instead to fire dozens of media workers and leave the country. Not only does this drip more poison into the terrible working standards of freelance journalists in Canada, but it has effectively cancelled countless stories across the country, to remain in the dark until someone cares.
We care. We are sick of waiting around for things to change.
We have watched some of the best writers in this country routinely get their pitches rejected in Canada, patching their livelihoods together with American freelancing and side jobs. We have seen, internally, just how difficult it is to get critical journalism out at legacy media outlets that might offend the wrong investors or political players.
We have witnessed the disappearance of almost all full-time labour reporting jobs, simultaneous with the quick and painful gig-ification of journalism. Extreme late payments, lack of responses from employers, unfair hours and demands, and a host of other issues have become completely normalized in what was once a stable industry. Perhaps most egregiously, we have watched as our superiors and peers dutifully ingest police and corporate press releases and package them as news—a structural and political problem that comes largely out of a lack of time to do proper journalistic work on one story.
We must change all of these things. The Hoser cannot accomplish it all, even in our world-class city with reporters firing on all cylinders. But we can be a part of turning this ship around.
Our primary goal is to share the voices and personal stories of those who are systematically shut out of mainstream media. We want to share the triumphs of communities who are often only featured in news segments when there's a problem.
We want to publish labour stories and highlight the workplace struggles that essential workers are experiencing through the pandemic and beyond.
We want to offer educational opportunities to young people who are interested in journalism but didn’t get into a fancy university because their grades weren’t good enough or because they couldn’t afford it. Not every person is built for rigid academic settings.
It is no secret to any living adult that times, they are a changin’. Tragically, our Roaring ‘20s are off to a familiar start. The fascist right re-emerging, union busting, virulent racism, airhead billionaire industrialists, a global plague. Hell, even the Pinkertons are back.
To survive, and thrive, in this city and this era, we need our own press. That is part of what The Hoser aims to do in the GTA: to tell the stories that push back against the worst in our society, that chronicle the abuses, and put the wonderful successes of our people on a stage for everyone to see. It’s very ambitious, of course. This city deserves a great, loud, independent outlet that does hard journalism, investigations, arts, culture, photography, podcasts and pays its workers fairly.
Help us walk this line. Stand strong with us in our foundation. We will be eternally grateful, and put our blood, sweat and tears into making every cent go as far as it can.
Over the next month and a bit (until June 1st) The Hoser is pushing for 1000 patrons to join our Patreon page. As of today, April 26, we have 87 wonderful patrons who are committed to giving us between $3 and $20 a month. We just reached the $500/month mark today, which is pretty incredible for a brand new media outlet. There are many levels and each comes with perks. We’ve made it as accessible as we can, so if you want to give us $3 a month we’ll cherish it and put it to good use. If you want to give us $40 a month, we’ll send you a personalized postcard as well as some modestly priced paraphernalia from an organization you appreciate, like BLM Toronto, or Maggie's Toronto, or a book from a local bookstore you appreciate. Just let us know. And at $100/month we'll make you a wonderful socially distanced backyard dinner this summer.
Help us make this happen in our beloved corner of the world and support independent media in the Greater Toronto Area today.
Shannon Carranco, Kevin Taghabon and The Hoser Team