Just yesterday, I was reading the words of Michael Oreskes, NPR's senior vice-president of news and editorial director.
He was speaking in Washington, D.C. at a memorial for 14 journalists who died doing their jobs in 2016. Two of them worked for NPR and died in the field in Afghanistan.
Journalism wasn't a job to them, said Oreskes. It was a mission. They believed in something precious and simple and profound.
"They believed that independent information in the hands of individuals helps make them free... that it empowers them to make decisions and liberates them from governments that would control them by keeping them ignorant."
As Oreskes points out: "We don't live in a post-truth era. We live in an era where powerful organizations and governments know just how much the truth still matters ... and they are willing to kill journalists — or jail or bully or threaten them — to keep the truth from being known."
I think this is his strongest point: "In the world we have inherited, liberty is much more likely to be lost to ignorance, than to jackbooted armies."
These are powerful words. They ring true and they are deeply moving. And they inspire me to take a moment to acknowledge our paying subscribers and donors for their support of National Observer's journalism. And I want to acknowledge our readers, too.
If you subscribed or donated, your dollars had a big impact
If you are one of those who have subscribed or donated, I want to say this: your belief in independent journalism matters so much.
National Observer just turned two years old and depends upon readers like you to produce powerful investigative reporting that holds corporations and government to account. Fortunately, we don't face the physical dangers of journalists working in conflict zones.
The threats we face are financial — not having the resources to do the next investigation because ad dollars all go to Facebook and Google, or because we are busy fighting a lawsuit, or building a crowdfunding campaign to bring in raise enough capital to keep the lights on.
That's why you play such an important role at National Observer. Your subscriptions fuel the journalism we produce, sending Mike De Souza into the field, paying for the Access to Information requests he files. You make it possible for Bruce Livesey to spend weeks on his deep investigations. You support Elizabeth McSheffrey as she chases down leads into environmental crimes and human rights abuses in the mining industry.
You make National Observer sustainable by providing reliable income. And this means the world to me.
Because of your backing, we now have journalist Kelly Toughill exposing problems with Canada's spy program. Jenny Uechi has expanded the scope of a sponsored content report to bring you extra in-depth reporting on how Syrian refugees are adapting to life in Canada. You've also funded success stories about water, forests and the burgeoning sustainable economy.
Many of the stories piled up on Mike's desk last fall got reported on. Thank you.
Your subscription made history:
- First digital-only publication to become a finalist for the highest distinction in Canadian journalism, the Michener Award (winner to be announced by the Governor General next week).
- First new media organization to win a National Newspaper Award (for Bruce Livesey’s investigative series on the billionaire Irving family)
Your subscription led to other recognition as well:
- Canadian Association of Journalists award for investigative journalism (for Mike De Souza’s expose of the National Energy Board and Energy East pipeline process)
- Canadian Online Publishing Award for Best Column to Sandy Garossino
- Canadian Online Publishing Award for Best News Coverage in 2016
National Observer turned two this month. Without subscribers and donors, none of the reporting of the last year would have been possible. This recognition belongs to all of you as well as to us. To all of us together.
You all help in the fight against propaganda
To our readers as well who may have shared an article with a friend or co-worker. Building National Observer's audience is crucial and invaluable. If you did this, thank you.
On National Observer's second birthday, I really want to thank you all. Please know how deeply I appreciate having been on this journey with you.
As Obama said yesterday in Montreal: "We're going to have to find a way to fight back against propaganda and find a way to cultivate independent journalism."
I believe that, together, we are already finding that way and I look forward to travelling it with you over the coming year.
Watch the video of Michael Oreskes' moving Newseum Journalist Memorial rededication keynote.