Ricochet’s team of editors and contributors is taking some much-needed downtime into the new year. From the global climate emergency to the rise of Donald Trump and other demagogues, 2016 has in many ways been a dispiriting year. Facing a wave of xenophobia and disinformation, well-funded public interest journalism has never been more important, and we’re committed to expanding our efforts in 2017.
Over the past year, we’ve published hundreds of features and opinion pieces covering many of the most urgent issues facing Canada and our world.
We brought Canada’s connection to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the fore by publishing an investigation by Cory Collins that showed Canadian banks are funding the project, which made national news. At Standing Rock, North Dakota, our Indigenous Reporting Fund’s Leena Minifie brought us stories from the front lines. We also explored racism in the academy, publishing Anthony Morgan’s letter to Black students on how to respond — or not — to the pressure to talk about Black Lives Matter, which struck a chord with students and teachers alike. A report on universities’ failure to include Indigenous and racialized leaders in their executive ranks by Erin Seatter drew strong reactions from people in post-secondary. And we launched a podcast, Unpacking the News,, which delves deeper into stories published by Ricochet, such as journalist Tina Tenneriello’s examination of Indigenous peoples’ overrepresentation in Canada’s prisons.
We also published an exclusive interview with Edward Snowden on the mistreatment of the refugees who sheltered him in Hong Kong, which generated international headlines, and our French edition produced consistently excellent work in that language which repeatedly drove the news cycle in Quebec.
Those are just a few examples of the kind of content we plan to continue publishing in 2017.
We know that people power can get us through the toughest times, even when the deck is stacked in favour of powerful right-wing forces. This month, our readers reminded us of just how strong we are when we come together in solidarity.
In November, a man about whom we will say nothing because we have nothing nice to say, sued Ricochet for $350,000, which represents an existential threat to our small independent operation.
This man punches down every day, in his tabloid column, and on his radio and TV shows. His targets? Mostly Muslims, but also feminists, students and any other marginalized group he can bully. His job is to generate outrage, because it generates clicks, and he’s tragically good at it.
We punched up when our French edition published a satirical critique of his work, mocking one of the most powerful figures in Quebec media. This man, who has long defended his own work on free speech grounds, and who wrote over 40 columns praising the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish whatever it likes, turned around and filed a lawsuit against us without so much as requesting a retraction.
We don’t believe he has a case, but the plan in this type of suit is rarely about winning and more often about driving a small non-profit into bankruptcy through the costs of a legal defence.
It was a hellish month as we juggled our jobs as editors with a series of legal and strategy meetings. But then something truly amazing happened.
We went public with the lawsuit on Dec. 5 and since then have been inundated with support. It’s truly been special, and it’s the kind of love for our work that leaves us more determined than ever to fight for this outlet and the communities it serves.
In under three weeks, we’ve raised over $47,000 to defend ourselves and keep this outlet going from over 2,000 donors who have given an average of $23. Virtually every media outlet in Quebec covered our story, and all but one of the many opinion pieces and columns on the case have been favourable to us.
To help us reach our goal of $50,000 before the New Year, donate here or, better yet, become a member of Ricochet. (If you’re already a member, it’s a great time of year to give a gift membership to a friend!)
Any funds we don’t need to defend ourselves will be invested in sustaining the outlet.
In these dangerous times for the world, independent publications like ours are more necessary than ever. We saw sustained growth in readership, monthly donors and profile this year, and we have big plans for the one to come.
Thanks to you, we’re headed into 2017 confident that we have not only the resources but also the community behind us to fight this lawsuit.
While we do that, we’ll continue to produce the excellent content you’ve come to expect, and we’ll proceed with plans to roll out a series of exciting new initiatives over the course of the next year.
Whatever you celebrate, or don’t celebrate, we wish you a restful and relaxing holiday. See you in 2017.