Journalism 2.0: How Jesse Brown has changed media in CANADALAND forever.

Jesse Brown - Photo by Radiant Photography

Jesse Brown – Photo by Radiant Photography

Excepting those living in America and Canadians who have been living in a cave, most people know this much about Jesse Brown…

He’s the journalist who broke the Jian Ghomeshi story.

And, if that’s all you know about Jesse Brown, I am sad for you.

Jesse Brown is a self-styled “media critic” – one of a small group of journalists in Canada that aren’t afraid to report on the media establishment, occasionally offending a few in the profession along the way.

Long before the “CBC sex scandal” news broke, Jesse was doing journalism primarily by way of his modest weekly podcast, CANADALAND. Each week he would interview journalists (and others) who weren’t afraid to stick their neck out a little.

I loved his show from the moment I discovered it.

I would anxiously wait each week for the insights the new episode would bring into the fascinating, quickly evolving world of media. So-called “Mainstream Media” and “Alternative Media” have so radically changed over the last decade, in Canada and around the world, and here’s a guy who has his finger on the pulse of it.

And despite being just as politically opinionated as one presumes all journalists to be, he’s happy to cover the whole spectrum in a remarkably respectful way, routinely including diverse guests from renowned and controversial right-wing journalist Ezra Levant to Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick. In a fascinatingly meta way, he even has his own media critic: one Joe Clark, who runs a CanadaLand Watch blog.

Now my job is hard some times… but I don’t have a guy who’s dedicated his life to publicly scrutinizing everything I do.

Jesse’s response to this criticism of his work? Well, invite him on the show of course!

I am sure you’ll agree (already) that Jesse Brown is one of the most interesting people in the country. But I won’t stop there.

As it turned out, it wasn’t just me that loved his show. Other people loved his show, too. Lots of them. Lots and lots of them.

So, when you have so many fans, and you’re offering a free podcast, how can you make a living doing it? Advertising? Yes, he does that. But Jesse had bigger plans.

In late 2014, Jesse launched a Patreon campaign to fund his work by the listeners themselves. As of today, he’s earning nearly $12,000 a month in contributions from his fans (and those are U.S. dollars).

Now, let me say, I’ve done this myself with my podcast (more of a test than anything, but we’re currently at $0/month), and I’ve known a lot of people who have tried crowdfunding and fallen flat on their faces. Lots of promise, few successes. (Social Media Camp star and tech guru Steve Dotto also has a successful patreon campaign, but he’s also the exception, not the rule.)

Anyway, Jesse Brown was so successful with Patreon that he’s managed to hire a staff, launch a second show (working on a third), and go to a twice-weekly podcast.

In short, he’s crowdfunded his own little media empire. Seriously.

So, while he’s an interesting journalist. From a Social Media Camp perspective, he’s a pretty interesting and innovative business owner, too.

Needless to say, we are HUGELY excited he’s coming to Social Media Camp this year. He’ll be a Friday keynote. He’s also doing a live podcast recording at UVic in conjunction with campus radio station CFUV. Students get a great discount to Social Media Camp, too. Check out details about this exclusive event here.


Paul Holmes

Paul Holmes is Co-Founder of Social Media Camp. He is a 25-year IT industry veteran, and lifelong resident of Victoria, British Columbia.

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