Ricochet: a new model of real independent journalism needs your help.. Derrick O’Keefe writes
“At a time when when the dominant ideology is so often accepted without scrutiny, when assumptions are rarely challenged and whistleblowers flee their countries for fear that they might be disappeared, new initiatives like Ricochet are badly needed. Struggles of the oppressed and dominated remain the motive force of history. I hope that Ricochet succeeds in its aims. It is badly needed in Canada where the drift to the right over the last years has been frightening.” - Tariq Ali, author and activist.
In 2012, Quebec’s student movement carried out a months-long strike, managing to push back and hold off a neoliberal government’s attempt to raise tuition fees. Repeatedly mobilizing upwards of 200,000 people at monthly ‘mega-manifs,’ the “Maple Spring” was an all too rare win against the forces of austerity, and so it captured imaginations around the world.
Within Canada, however, this historic movement in Quebec was very poorly represented in the mainstream media. Pundits disparaged the students as “entitled” and “lazy,” while many outlets all but ignored some of the largest protest rallies in Canadian history. When the media did pay attention, they tended to focus on trivial matters, or on sporadic incidents of property destruction, ignoring the core issues involved in this political battle. And of course media coverage of Quebec has always been distorted by simplistic demonization of the sovereigntist movement.
At the time of the 2012 Quebec movement, I was the editor of rabble.ca, a progressive Canadian publication. We quickly turned our limited resources toward all-out coverage of the Quebec movement. Any statement we could translate from French, or any supportive commentary we could publish, found an instant and wide audience. There was clearly a thirst for sympathetic coverage of this struggle against neoliberalism.
We had a similar experience with the Idle No More movement which brought Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and rights to the forefront. While Idle No More spread rapidly on social media, and inspired solidarity events globally, much of Canada’s media ignored, downplayed or distorted the movement. And yet there was a real desire for actual reportage on Idle No More, and for commentaries sympathetic with this historic social movement.
These experiences convinced many of us that we needed to build new and innovative media platforms. In short, we realized that if we wanted to change the world, we needed to change the media. If properly and widely presented in the media, radical and dissenting ideas turn out to be much more mainstream that we might think.
All this has led a number of us, in Quebec and throughout Canada, to found RicochetMedia.ca, an ambitious new bilingual online publication. Ricochet is the product of collaboration between anglophones and francophones in a plurinational Canada, informed by an understanding of our colonial histories and supportive of contemporary Indigenous struggles. Ricochet brings together anglophones and francophones within the same publication, composed of two editions which maintain their editorial independence.
The French side of Ricochet includes several past spokespeople of ASSE (Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante), the key organization behind organizing the 2012 strike, and will highlight important progressive voices in Quebec. The English editorial committee includes well known writers and authors like Ethan Cox, Justin Podur and Belen Fernandez, as well as a whole roster of emerging critical commentators and investigative journalists.
We look forward to regularly translating key articles for English readers across Canada, the United States, Britain and elsewhere around the world, partnering with progressive and independent publications like Counterfire.
We are currently raising start-up funding, on our way to a full launch later this year. If you would like to donate to Ricochet, visit our Indiegogo page.
Here’s to spreading this new media ricochet together.
Derrick O’Keefe is a Principal Editor of RicochetMedia.ca.