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When I first heard about rabble.ca it was an upstart of an idea that seemed to have burst, fully formed from the head of Judy Rebick. I know that's not how it really happened, but memory is such a trickster. I was asked to help think about what a community surrounding the content of rabble could look like. We now know. It is, well, a rabble. A sometimes motley collection of progressives whose voices matter and which needs a digital megaphone, battering ram and the occasional teddy bear catapulted over the ramparts of the powers that be. Which is, in my opinion, exactly the kind of alternative amplifier rabble.ca has become.
It was a digital native, one of the things that appealed to me about it. No print legacy, no lumbering infrastructure from another century. No grumpiness about an online culture and the blue sea of possibilities it was engendering. No strings and no limits. It was, in other words, willing to kiss the non-print future full on the lips.
I've tried to be helpful to rabble.ca since those early days as a columnist, board member and as director of emerging media. I've seen what happens when a publication is fearless about the future. It launched the rabble podcast network before most organizations had a single podcast. Live streamed before livestreaming was a thing. Explored Second Life, launched a Book Lounge. Created rabbleTV, developed a rabble app for smartphones. It was on the bleeding edge of online technology while the mainstream media was so far from that precipice it was waiting for the bus on the other side of town.
But embracing the extreme sport of emerging technology is only part of why rabble matters. The site has remained a nexus and champion for marginalized and sometimes ignored voices. It brings diversity to the Canadian media landscape. It, in the fine tradition of journalism, afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted. That's a role mainstream media seems to be forgetting.
In its desperate scramble for survival or, at least, greater stockholder returns, mainstream media acts more and more like corporations than a vital part of democracy that holds corporations accountable. It has embraced clickbait, sponsored, native content and is relinquishing its relationship with its audience as it kowtows to the digital platforms with remarkable reach. It is stumbling, badly in a digital realm it ignored, derided and looked down on. rabble remains that nimble digital native, and its agility is its strength.
It can in a small, but important way, recover some of what mainstream media has abandoned. But small steps matter. Diverse voices need to be heard and power needs to be held to account. So rabble.ca matters, to me, and, I hope to you. If you can, please support the values it celebrates.
Thank you for reading this story...
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.
If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.
We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing.