National Observer is a daily digital news publication.

What we do

National Observer publishes investigative reporting, exclusive special reports, and daily news coverage you won't find anywhere else. With reporters in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, and freelancers nationwide, National Observer's mission is excellence in public benefit journalism.

We prioritize facts, accuracy and ethics. That goes for our investigative journalism as well as for our daily news coverage on climate change, energy and the environment. Our Indigenous affairs reporter features the accomplishments of First Nations communities. In our renewable energy coverage, we seek out stories that point the to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

We are committed to producing journalism that is accurate, fair and complete, and our journalists strive to act with honesty, transparency and independence, including from conflicts of interest. We correct errors and provide significant clarifications quickly and prominently. You can find our ethics policy here.

We hold decision-makers accountable.

Mission

We believe knowledge is an asset and that the public depends on journalists to bring them accurate, timely information. This information provides people with the wherewithal to make important decisions and to engage with society's challenges.

We believe in the power of investigative reporting to improve people's lives, and believe that original reporting and analysis on the subjects we care most about push the conversation forward.

We ask hard questions, check facts, reveal and correct mistakes when we make them, and listen to feedback from our audience.

We aspire to make our publication gender balanced, to give women an equal voice as sources and as subjects of stories, and to have our source, subjects and images reflect Canada's diversity. We recognize that we do not always live up to our own aspirations and regularly discuss how to make improvements. We are ambitious about our work as journalists. We believe that the readers who subscribe to our publication are the lifeblood, particularly in that they make our investigative journalism possible.

We believe that public feedback is not a one-way street -- that is, simply publishing your comments or letters. We are committed to engaging with you and taking action based on your suggestions, complaints and other feedback. You may help us develop an individual story or line of coverage, answer questions that a story may raise, identify related or under-covered issues, and teach us about new and diverse sources, experts and perspectives.

In line with this, we are committed to providing greater transparency about our journalism and offering regular points of contact and interaction. We believe that news organizations have a responsibility to engage with the public on the values, issues and ideas of the day, and that we have much to gain in return.

We use a variety of programs and techniques toward this end. Our programs include public events in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. We are developing more ways to engage with our readers and will be announcing how we will be doing this in early 2019.

Our history

Founded in 2015 by Linda Solomon Wood, National Observer broke new ground in May 2017 when it became the first digital-only news site ever to win a National Newspaper Award. The award came in the business reporting category. We're proud of a 2016 investigative reporting award from the Canadian Association of Journalists Mike De Souza's series on alleged conflicts of interest within Canada's federal pipeline regulator received. Mike's investigation landed us as a finalist for the Michener Awards, one of the highest honours in Canadian journalism. National Observer was the first online-only publication ever to receive a Michener citation of merit from the governor general at Rideau Hall.

Top row from left: Evan Hu, National Observer shareholder, Jenny Uechi, partner, Special Assignments reporter, Sandy Garossino, National Affairs columnist, Michener Foundation president. Bottom row from left: Linda Solomon Wood, founder, editor-in-chief, Former Governor General and partner, Mike De Souza, Managing Editor.

Recently, National Observer was named a finalist by the Canadian Online Publishing Awards in the following categories: 'Best News Website' in Canada, 'Best Column or Blog, 'Best Continuing Coverage of a Story,' and 'Best Photo Journalism.' In November 2016, the COPAs named us 'Independent Publisher of the Year," and gave us top awards in the following categories: 'Best News Coverage', 'Best Digital Solution,' and 'Best Column or Blog,' for associate editor Sandy Garossino's powerful and popular commentary. National Observer ranked second in COPA's all-Canada competition for 'Best News Website,' right behind the Toronto Star, and has previously received two other nominations for investigative journalism awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists.

Ownership structure, funding, collaborations and editorial independence

National Observer is owned by Observer Media Group (OMG), and became a certified B corporation in April 2018. OMG qualified for B Corp status for its commitments to social and environmental sustainability, joining a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Observer Media Group was incorporated with the launch of Vancouver Observer, a deep local publication founded and edited by Linda Solomon Wood, which grew from a community blog into a news site publishing award-winning reporting and covering issues in communities across British Columbia.

We are a privately owned company. We chose this financial structure because we believe that treating journalism as a business makes us more innovative and forces us to strive to create a unique, exceptional publication. We believe our most important relationship is with our readers and that readers will only pay for journalism they consider high value and unique. Our success with charging for our journalism gives us confidence in achieving profitability in the near future, and that this will allow us to continue to improve and expand our journalism capabilities.

Although we are subscription-based, we also work with a number of foundations to produce in-depth coverage of journalism that we could not afford to do otherwise. As with all of our journalism, we retain full and complete editorial control of all of our reporting. We publish the names of foundation we work with on the project pages of the stories we produce with them.

National Observer's seed funding came from two Kickstarter campaigns: 'Reports from the Energy Battlegrounds,' and 'Reports from the Race Against Climate Change' and equity from Canadian social impact investors and convertible loans. We also go to our readership to raise money for specific areas of coverage about twice a year. As we are not a charity, we are not able to issue tax receipts for these generous and important gifts. We do report back to donors large and small on the reporting their gifts made possible.

Solomon Wood, a former journalist, is the founder and majority shareholder of Observer Media Group. Other shareholders include National Observer's senior staff and a group of social impact investors. Our full-time employees who have been with us for more than a year receive stock options.

In July 2016, the company launched a paywall. Our goal is to become 100 per cent reader-funded over the next three years. Half of our revenue in the fiscal year 2017-2018 came from subscriptions.

National Observer has collaborated with the following foundations on journalism projects: United Way of Lower Mainland (for Syrian refugee reporting in 2016); Vancity, Teck Inc. and Tides Canada (for Great Bear Rainforest reporting in 2016); Earthways Foundation (for environmental reporting in 2015) and Tides US (for general reporting in 2015). First Nations Forward collaborators: BC Real Estate Foundation, Vancity Credit Union, Vancouver Foundation, Catherine Donnelly Foundation, Echo Foundation, I-SEA, and the Canadian Centre for Investigative Journalism, The Donner Canadian Foundation. Canada's Clean Energy Transition: The Ivey Foundation. National Observer is part of The Facebook Journalism Project. We received support from Heritage Canada's Canadian Periodical Fund in 2018. In 2019 in Ottawa, we are partnering with the European Union on two panels hosted by Mike De Souza on climate change and we have an ongoing series in Toronto entitled: Ontario 2030, hosted by Fatima Syed.