Wow that was fast.
On Friday the Sun News Network met its end. Over the long weekend some of its former employees began setting up their own online media projects.
The first and so far the most elaborate, if I can use that term, is Ezra Levant's The Rebel.
I take it that the internet domain FuckYouCRTC.com was already taken. Keeping with Ezra's traditional punch the bastards in the face approach there are two videos on the site. The first video is lamenting the loss of the SNN and examining the reasons for its demise. A vital bit of information he includes is that BNN, the Business News Network, has about 4000 viewers on average. That's about half of the SNN's viewership at the time of its cancellation. Yet BNN is quite profitable thanks to mandatory carriage.
Ezra's second video lays out his plans, still pretty sketchy, for a kind of online television station that will take the best of the SNN but at less cost and with greater flexibility. So far the only non-Ezra video on the site is from Brian Lilley, who does a bit of rehash of his final SNN story on the High River Gun Grab. Basically he goes over a recent internal RCMP report that confirms widespread civil rights violations during the flooding last year.
Lilley has more extensive commentary and reporting over at his podcasting site. The sound quality was actually quite excellent, frankly better than at SNN. I can easily imagine driving into the work while listening to a LilleyCast. OK I don't drive into work per se. Only the mad drive in downtown Toronto at rush hour. I do listen to a fair number of downloaded podcasts during the commute. It keeps my mind off the sights and sounds of the TTC.
The platform, SoundCloud, is a tad cumbersome. I don't see any Lilley related material over at iTunes. For iPhone users it looks like you need to download the SoundCloud app and then create a free account.
Last but hardly least is Faith Goldy, and undisclosed others, who look to be setting up True North Report. So far the site only has a spot where you can sign up for their e-mail blasts. Their first blast on Sunday was fairly general:
At True North Report we will report the facts.
We will go head-first into the hottest stories.
We will cover the stories that are ignored, not for shock value but because they are important.
We will share original ideas on how to better Canada.
We will not simply sit on the sidelines and complain about what is wrong.
As more details emerge I'll certainly be posting. I'll also be keeping an eye out for any SNN alumni related developments. If you hear something that I might have missed, post in the comments or e-mail me (link on the right side panel).
Since this blog specializes in unsolicited advice let me make three points:
1) Dividing your energies among a variety of projects is likely to be self-defeating. One big site with as many clever and interesting people as you can get is the best bet. Recall that the Toronto Sun was founded from the ashes of the old Toronto Telegram.
2) Check out the very fine American website Ricochet. Founded a few years back by former Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson, and former Cheers producer and writer Rob Long, the site is already making some waves in US political circles. Along with a variety of excellent podcasts the site also has a main feed that showcases professional writers, interspersed with posts from ordinary members that have struck the fancy of the editors.
The main feed is open to all but the ability to make comments, or make a blog post, is restricted to paying members. Starting membership rates are $5 a month. I've been a member for a few years though, given my blogging efforts here, rarely post. Basically I'm chipping in to keep a good idea going. I've mused from time to time about a Canadian version of Ricochet, either a branch plant or something using their overall approach.
3) Whatever gets worked out in the near term sooner or later, probably within about six months, some kind of a subscription model will need to be set-up. Advertising isn't going to carry the load online. The rates are simply too low. A few sugar daddies won't go amiss either. National Review, the grandfather of all Right leaning publications, hasn't turned a profit in 60 years. It's kept aloft by donations, both big and small, and whatever it picks up from subscribers.
As I said last week: Real journalism and intelligent commentary requires time and effort. That's another way of saying you're going to have to pay.