''The Tyee'' is an independent online Canadian news magazine that primarily covers British Columbia. It was founded in November 2003 by its editor-in-chief, David Beers
, an award-winning writer and former features editor at ''The Vancouver Sun
''. Since its launch it has recruited a number of other writers, including Andrew Nikiforuk, Andrew MacLeod, Katie Hyslop, Crawford Kilian, Michael Harris
, Colleen Kimmett, Geoff Dembicki, Charles Campbell, Christopher Cheung, Tom Barrett, Sarah Berman, Chris Wood, Ian Gill, Chris Pollon, Steve Burgess, Murray Dobbin, Michael Geist
, Terry Glavin
, Mark Leiren-Young
, Rafe Mair
, Will McMartin, Shannon Rupp, Vanessa Richmond and Dorothy Woodend.
The name "Tyee" is based on the current local definition of Tyee salmon
—a Chinook or Spring salmon of 30 lbs or more. The word is derived from the Nuu-chah-nulth language
, meaning a chief, a king, or champion. It also embodies the magazine's dedication to publishing lively, informative news and views, to "roam free, and go where we wish" as the tyee salmon do.
Tyee articles focus on politics, culture and life. It has expanded its activities to a blog: ''The Hook''. In 2009, according to ''BCBusiness'' magazine, ''The Tyee'' had a growing British Columbia readership, up 77 percent since 2007 to approximately 175,000 unique visitors a month.
By 2017, The Tyee was regularly receiving between 800,000 to 1,000,000 page views a month.
In 2007, ''The Tyee'' was recognized nationally with an Honourable Mention in the category of Excellence in Journalism for Small, Medium, or Local Media. The category includes all Canadian online journalism with fewer than 500,000 unique visitors a month. In 2009, the magazine ''BCBusiness'' also placed ''The Tyee'' as ninth of their list of the province's ten most innovative companies.
''The Tyee'' was awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award
by the Radio and Television News Directors Association in 2009 and 2011. It was the only Canadian news organization to be honoured for the national (North America-wide) category in 2011. The Tyee has won the Canadian Journalism Foundation Excellence in Journalism Award twice, in 2009 and 2011. In 2015, ''The New Yorker
'' magazine called The Tyee "a fascinating case study" of how local journalism is funded.
In 2001, David Beers was fired from the features editor position at ''The Vancouver Sun'' as part of Canwest Global
's famous purge of top-level journalists. Beers says, "When I was fired it was kind of a wake-up call, I was writing some forthright things after 9/11—they weren't radical, I didn't think, but they challenged the jingoistic tone of many commentators and politicians in Canada as well as the US."
''The Tyee'' began in November 2003.
Its original premise was "investigative reporting no one else is doing, and fresh viewpoints from all over B.C."
According to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, which awards the Edward R. Murrow award, ''The Tyee'' is admirable for its independence and its creative commitment to covering its city and region while extending its reach to Canada and beyond.
In this style, ''The Tyee'' is a Canadian rarity; few other online magazines have the same focus. ''The Tyee'' also picks key areas for in-depth investigative or solutions-focused reporting.
Being an online magazine, there are fewer chances to introduce the production crew, such as having an editor's letter in every issue. ''The Tyee'' has set a goal to "open up" in order for their readers to gain a better understanding of who they are, and what they are about. The intent is to give the community more opportunities to contribute to ''The Tyees daily content. ''The Tyee'' has had held several public events in order be less virtual, and more present in the physical world. David Beers explains that, "after eight years, it's time we came out from behind our screens and started shaking hands with the thousands of people who visit ''The Tyee'' and make us a vibrant community."
In 2008, ''The Tyee'' launched a new blog called ''The Hook''. According to investigative editor and overseer, Monte Paulsen, ''The Hook'' was a "superblog," because ''The Hook'' publishes quick, frequent, timely reports and analysis by experienced Tyee journalists and a wide network of contributors, unlike most blogs that offer works of one or two journalists. Posts were approximately 200-300 words in length, allowing coverage of a greater number and variety of topics that have not been touched upon before. As a business initiative, the blog offered more space for advertising, since online "retail space" is a challenge for online publishers, unlike print magazines that can simply add advertising-only pages. The blog enabled marketers additional opportunities. The Hook was retired in 2013.
Interactive and multimedia content
Unlike many online magazines, ''The Tyee'' has minimal interactive and multi-media content, and is largely based on written story. According to Beers, it is not that ''The Tyee'' does not wish to have such features, but are rather limited in people and in-house resources.
In terms of visual content, ''The Tyee'' runs a lot of photography, and have had immensely positive results with "crowd sourced photography." ''The Tyee'' flickr pool draws thousands of images, and a new one is featured every day on the site. These images are often run in the stories, and on photo essays by the readers. For example, on Labour Day, ''The Tyee'' ran 20 images of people at work taken by ''The Tyee'' readers. This approach resulted in a main feature, called "The People's Podium", on ''The Tyee'' everyday during the Olympics.
It included approximately a dozen photos taken by readers that were funny, poignant, ironic - images that are supposedly very different from the spectacle-enhancing photos other media were producing. In the fall, ''The Tyee'' plans to take this idea forward into video. It will be launching a multi-media window that features videos, and photo slide shows provided or recommended by their readers.
In 2010, according to Beers, ''The Tyees annual revenue of about $500,000 to $600,000 includes $450,000 from ongoing sale of equity, $75,000 from advertising, $50,000 from grants, $25,000 from reader donations, and several thousand from renting out newsroom desks.
By 2017, that revenue mix had evolved to 28% ongoing sale of equity, 46% reader funding, and 26% advertising, sponsorships, event ticket sales, and grants for special projects.
The Tyee has been a pioneer in reader-funded journalism experiments. Since 2009, the organization has raised close to $1 million from readers. By 2017, over 1,500 readers had signed up as a Tyee Builders, contributing funding to The Tyee on a monthly basis.
# Topical pledge drives:
#: ''The Tyee'' prepares a multiple-choice list of popular topics, and any money donated toward each one would be guaranteed to go to funding that topic. Beers calls this "crowdsourcing the editorial board."
Just as major donors and foundations influence their grants, small donors can also enjoy the same privilege. For example, Beers provided donors a choice of which issues ''The Tyee'' should be covering during Canada's 2009 elections, the pledge brought in $25,000 in 10 days.
In 2014, a campaign to “take The Tyee national” raised $118,000 in three weeks.
# Interest-group ownership:
#: The Tyee is owned by a majority and minority shareholder. The majority shareholder is Working Enterprises, a family of companies affiliated with the British Columbia Federation of Labor that also includes insurance, travel and financial services firms that cater to Canadian union members. In exchange for an annual subsidy of $300,000, Working Enterprises owns two-thirds of ''The Tyees theoretically for-profit operation. Investor Eric Peterson is The Tyee’s minority shareholder.
# Renting out desks in the newsroom:
#: ''The Tyee's'' office is a little bigger than necessary, so they have made three desks available for rental at $250 a month each, wireless Internet, kitchen, and utilities are included.
The tenants are, essentially, co-working in a newsroom. Beers sees potential for selling access to newsroom synergies, "journalists can be pretty valuable to some people — there's a certain rigor and skepticism about what we do."
One of ''The Tyees desk tenants, Mitchell Anderson, the general manager of a local beachcombers' co-op and an occasional freelance writer, explains that "the rent is relatively cheap and it's a nice location, but the main thing I get out of that is a peer group, I really enjoy chatting with bright people about interesting things."
In a 2016 Canadaland
interview with Jesse Brown, Beers said that "special interests" always fund media. "I can't imagine a media that isn't funded by special interest."
Tyee Solutions Society
The Tyee Solutions Society (TSS) is non-charitable, non-profit, and exists to fund groups of journalists focused on particular subjects: food security, education, youth well being, etc. Directed by Michelle Hoar the TSS is separate from ''The Tyee'', though it is guaranteed an outlet on ''The Tyee''.
The journalism it produces is intended to be shared with other media outlets as well, creating PDFs, books, public events, and any other means to engage the public's attention. The TSS has had good luck attracting foundation support for such journalism projects, including series on affordable housing, food security, green building, and, soon to be released in partnership with the CBC, aboriginal education.
The TSS model allows employment of journalists who remain focused on one field, rather than having a limited amount of freelance money, and paying small amounts to whoever that wants to write. The foundation support for TSS allows journalists to have a regular pay cheque and develop their expertise.
Long form journalism
David Beers explains that long-form journalism works online for ''The Tyee'' when it is definitive.
A number of ''The Tyees articles are long form, because coverage of the entire story, given the narrative structure, requires it to be so. Each day four features are published that almost always goes beyond a thousand words, often 1,500 words. A 4,000 words piece may be broken into three or four parts, and are consequently published over the course of two or three days.
''The Tyee'' strives to make long form journalism digestible on the readers' own terms through a series function. Each story has a yellow button that directs the reader to a page where the entire series it is part of is compiled. This allows the series to be spread around as one URL.
The rise of social media is rather supportive to long-form journalism. In assuming that the audience for a long story consists of either people who wish for definitive pieces, or people whose tastes spark their desire to be immersed in a creatively structured piece of storytelling, then the audience is most likely geographically and demographically dispersed yet potentially very passionate regarding such articles (and also the nature of their content). Social media, trusted recommendations through Facebook, Twitter and others, allow people find their desired piece of long-form journalism.
As of 2011, ''The Tyees Twitter feed had about 47,000 followers.
Beers has questioned the representativeness of Vancouver media. In a 2005 article and testimony to Parliament titled "Creating Counterweights to Big Media," he stated: "Vancouver is a heartbreaking place to be a dedicated news reporter, news editor, or news reader, because a single company owns the big papers, the big TV news station, and so many other media properties. There is simply not enough competition to keep that owner honest. By honest I mean dedicated to informing readers, rather than pandering to advertisers or to political allies."
Beers sees BC as a sign of current trends in the national media industry, including: consolidation of titles, cross-ownership of mediums, and convergence and homogenization of content.
Beers pitches ''The Tyee'' as an experiment in changing the media landscape, partly through reader-funded journalism.
According to a 2008 article published in the ''Canadian Journal of Communication
'' (CJC), major media sources in British Columbia at that time, were owned by Canwest
, which was known for ties to the federal Conservative party as well as promoting a pro-business agenda.
Category:Canadian news websites
Category:Publications established in 2003
Category:Organizations based in Vancouver