In partnership with SFU's school of communication


MDD is this Week! Visit our Media Fair and Hear Keynote Jesse Brown

It’s hard not to pay attention to Canadaland.jesse-brown-photo

Which is one of the reasons we are glad to have renowned journalist Jesse Brown start off Media Democracy Days this year as our keynote in partnership with the Spry Memorial Lecture Series.

Canadaland is a podcast and news site that makes it its business to break critical media stories. Stories like Andrew Coyne’s conflict with the National Post over a pre-election endorsement of the Liberals, before Coyne had publicly made the decision to resign from one of his positions. Jesse Brown’s clear contempt for censorship plays well with Canadaland’s tone: it always feels like an insider refusing to be silenced. And that’s part of the joy, is there’s some delightful protest in the scandal involved.

Though it’s the kind of delight that’s face on and always asks for the interview. Brown is a great interviewer, and often brings people on the Canadaland show who he disagrees with. Usually his guests stake their claims very well, and it’s cathartic to hear Brown try and work out what their position is against his own.

We can obviously point towards a real moral compass with Brown’s work. Clearly he thinks it’s necessary to break these stories and to be a watch dog over the media. But in doing that, Canadaland also makes it clear what the media’s role are in Canadian society –that “public good” and the attempt to be in service of it, are real and important ideas.

Brown has been able to make the media critiques he’s made in the last year from his own outlet and publication partly because of its independent and crowdfunded model. One where the pressure of advertisers had been avoided and the stories are allowed room to breathe . Where daring things are said, but attention is paid to diligence, work ethic, and journalistic standards.

Some of these values are at the heart of the Media Democracy Project. We believe in media’s contribution to the public good and their responsibilities to serve democracy. We also believe that it takes more than the mainstream economic model of journalism -paid for by advertising- to provide this.

Which is why I also want to highlight our list of presenters at this year’s Media Fair. We are lucky every year to host a number of organizations working in alternative media at the upstairs promenade at the VPL. This year we have a diverse group as ever, listed below. It’s inspiring to see all these group’s goals coming together to make a media environment that serves Canadians, and it’s a great chance for anyone to stop by and see what projects local and global groups are working on. We recommend taking the time to stop and chat with these people.

Media Fair Participants:

Amnesty International, BC Civil Liberties Association, Check Your Head, City Hall Watch, CJSF, Vancouver Co-op Radio, Groundswell, Hello Cool World, Love Intersections, the Mainlander, Megaphone, Metro Vancouver Watch, OpenMedia, Our City of Colours, The Peak,, Ricochet, The Source, The Talon, Theatre for Living, Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival, The Vancouver Observer, W2 Media, Women, Action, & the Media, and World Media in English

November 7th at the main branch of the VPL, see Jesse Brown, along with a great community of critical members of the media, speak at MDD 2015. If you haven’t had the chance to look through our program, it’s a good one:

See you on Saturday,

Sydney, on behalf of Media Democracy Days

Beyond Fear and Great Hair: Shaping Debate in elxn42

Why do some stories dominate headlines, while others slip past unnoticed?

It’s a million-dollar-question with serious democratic consequences. And it’s not just about which stories are told, but how.

This election campaign saw a series of strategic shifts to highlight some issues, minimize others, and control how Canadian political stories were told. Debates about the niquab, the economy, and national polling dominated the mainstream media spotlight, while other important issues – like healthcare and poverty – were largely pushed off stage.

Media Democracy Days 2015 will explore how Canadians interacted with the media in Election 42. Who created this campaign’s narrative and what methods worked to attract public attention? How did mainstream and non-commercial media outlets handle distorting wedge-issues and misinformation? What role does the media play in educating and empowering Canadians to take action?

The panel Beyond Fear & Great Hair: Shaping debate in #elxn42 brings together leading media makers, activists, and scholars to share their unique experiences with media and citizen engagement during the campaign:

This panel will explore how media narratives affected the election results, and offer some thoughts about citizen engagement in the post-election landscape. Visit for the full program.

See you on November 7th!

Christine on behalf of Media Democracy Days

Changing the Channel

It has been a trying decade in Canada’s media landscape. Ownership of commercial, mainstream media has concentrated. Newsrooms have faced massive cuts and layoffs. Government communication and access to information have been subject to unprecedented control. The CBC has been mismanaged and starved for resources.

But it hasn’t been all bad. These troubles have been offset by an explosion of independent media that have given Canadians access to a wider range of news, analysis, and opinion than ever before. For many of these emerging media outfits, this year’s election will be their first. So at Media Democracy Day 2015 we ask: how did they do? What did the independent media cover and how did their coverage influence the campaign? What stories and issues did they prioritize that the mainstream media ignored? In what ways were they able inform citizens, empower marginalized voices, fact-check political rhetoric, or explore the relationship between politics and the public good?

Join us November 7th at the Vancouver Public Library for the panel Changing the Channel: News, Independent Media and Campaign 2015, where we’ll hear from dynamic and innovative journalists like Leena Minifie, editor and journalist with Ricochet and the Indigenous Reporting Fund; Jenny Uechi, managing editor of the National Observer; Michael Stewart, writer and editor for; and Jim Mainguy, host of progressive current events show Redeye at Vancouver Co-op radio.

All the best on Monday

-the MDD team

Stop Spying On Us

This election, privacy matters.panel_spy2-01

There’s no doubt that Canadians face a national privacy deficit. Whether it’s government mishandling of citizen data; out-of-control, warrantless, mass surveillance; or our involvement in the ultra-secretive international Five Eyes spying alliance, Canadians want pro-privacy reform.

Moreover, the government’s controversial secret police Bill C-51 has proven to be more than an assault on our civil liberties. It’s increasingly become an election issue.

To address these and other challenges facing Canadians’ privacy, Media Democracy Days 2015 is proud to announce a panel titled Stop Spying on Us, which will feature privacy experts and advocates leading the charge for better safeguards in Canada. The panel will feature:

This panel will address questions of surveillance, privacy, and electronic civil liberties in Canada, and panelists will share ongoing efforts to push forward pro-privacy policy reforms. Join us and learn about both the political challenges and opportunities that Canadians face in working to protect and defend their privacy online.

We hope to see you there on November 7th, and stay tuned for more updates.

–Josh, on behalf of Media Democracy Days

Program Announced for MDD 2015

Join Us On Nov 7th for MDD 2015

We’re over a month and a half into this election, with three weeks left to go. And if you are feeling a little fatigued over the media coverage, the party fights, the talking points, we can’t blame you.

In contrast to the way elections are usually covered, in MDD 2015 we want to celebrate the dedication and work of those in alternative media, in art, in issue based organizations, and in the non-for profit sector, who are working to engage Canadians and really make their mark on public opinion at the polls. There’s the overwhelming sense that this is an election to change Canada. The stakes are high, and the decision of who takes the federal office will truly impact lives across our nation.

That’s why we are excited to announce this year’s program, which will take place after the election. Media Democracy Day 2015, held on November 7th at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library, will seek to answer questions about how the government of Canada was chosen, what part media played in the political decision making of Canadians, what narratives were made of Election 42, and what alternative media’s plans are to keep public engagement high no matter which party is elected.

Our day will begin with a Keynote Address from Jesse Brown of Canadaland, brought to you by the Spry Lecture at Simon Fraser University and MDD. Jesse is a renowned journalist, and Canadaland features investigative journalism, in-depth interviews, and a perspective on Canadian media that doesn’t shy away from hard questions.
Following Jesse, we will host a series of panels, including:

  • Stop Spying on Us, featuring Steve Anderson from OpenMedia, Micheal Vonn from the BCCLA, and Andrew Clement from the University of Toronto where he coordinates the Information Policy Research Program, who will address the technical, legal, and political challenges Canadians face in working to protect and defend their privacy online
  • Beyond Fear & Great Hair: Shaping debate in #elxn42, featuring Donald Gutstein, author of Harperism; Jamie Biggar from Leadnow; Anastasia Gaisenok from Check Your Head and Up For Debate; and Tara Mahoney from Gen Why Media and Creative Publics, who will reflect on their strategies for engaging the public in Canadian electoral politics.
  • Changing the Channel: News, Independent Media and Campaign 2015, featuring Leena Minifie from Ricochet the Indigenous Reporting Fund, Michael Stewart from, and Jim Mainguy from Redeye on Vancouver Co-op Radio to discuss the role of investigative journalism and critical political analysis in informing citizens, empowering marginalized voices, and exploring the relationship between politics and the public good.

Stay tuned to our social media channels throughout the next month for full program details, interviews with our guest speakers and more.

The end is in sight for Election 42, and we hope to see you all on November 7, when we will examine the role of alternative media and public debate in fostering a vital media democracy movement.

Correction: In our newsletter, we misprinted Donald Gutstein’s book title as “Harperland” instead of “Harperism.”