The Conversation Canada: A Case Study of a Not for Profit Journalism in a Time of Commercial Media Decline


This chapter tackles two pressing gaps in the journalism studies literature on the business of news in Canada: analysis of digital born journalism organizations and early implications of not-for-profit journalism. We use a case study approach to assess the launch and growth of The Conversation Canada, a national journalism organization that launched in 2017, and is one of eight affiliates of the global not-for-profit Conversation network of journalism sites. This case study is timely as Canada is seeing a growth in digital born journalism organizations, which are often seen as innovators and saviours compared to legacy media. At the same time, not-for-profit and publicly funded journalism organizations are increasingly considered an antidote to commercial journalism decline. We find The Conversation Canada contributing to journalism and innovating in its reach to traditional and non-elite audiences, its experimentation with not-for-profit democratic organizational models, and its access to non-traditional revenue sources in the form of university membership fees and competitive research funding.

Citation: Young, Mary Lynn & Hermida, Alfred (2020). The Conversation Canada: Not for profit journalism in a time of commercial media decline. In Dubois, Elizabeth and Martin-Bariteau, Florian (eds.), Citizenship in a Connected Canada: A Research and Policy Agenda, Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa Press.

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