Discourse Media

Successfully Funded!

completed of $500,000
Campaign Closed

Discourse Media is an innovative digital news media company that provides high-quality investigative journalism about the issues that matter most to Canadians. We are boldly re-imagining journalism: how it is produced and delivered, how it is funded and most importantly, how it can serve communities — not advertisers or foreign investors. 

“Built on collaboration, Discourse closes in on profit.”


The current news media model is broken. Reliance on advertising has caused media outlets to chase clicks, rather than create value for media consumers. The result? Fewer stories of importance are told or heard. From urban centres to remote communities, our leaders, courthouses and governments are less scrutinized and less accountable than ever before.

There is a growing unmet demand for quality, trustworthy stories in Canada and beyond. This is a significant business opportunity. 

With three years of award-winning journalism that has reached millions of readers and strong revenue growth, we are one of the first media companies in Canada to seize this rare moment to reinvent our industry.

We’re now looking for your help to take Discourse national. We’re offering Canadians the opportunity to invest in Discourse because we believe that media that exist to serve people should be owned by them. We are building Discourse for Canadians. We aim to create value —and profits —for our shareholders for years to come. 

The Market Opportunity

Around the world, news media companies are proving that subscriptions and memberships can replace advertising revenues. Just as the internet revolutionized the way people pay for music and television, audiences are increasingly willing to pay for high-quality journalism content. The so-called “Trump-bump” has accelerated audience growth. 

With 3.4 billion internet users worldwide and 12 per cent annual growth in smartphone users, we can imagine a world in which global news media subscriptions reach Spotify (50 million) and Netflix (95 million) levels. Discourse aims to be a global leader in news media engagement.

Canadians are already paying $115 million a year for digital news subscriptions, an amount that will triple in 10 years. Growth will be driven by millennials, Discourse’s core audience. We have identified a target audience of 3 million early adopters — influential and engaged young people who deeply care about issues, and are increasingly able and willing to pay for quality trustworthy journalism.

Our Product

In spring 2018, Discourse is taking its innovative journalism product national. Our goal is to build Canada’s largest community of engaged citizens through a membership-based service. We’re launching a digital product that offers the highest-quality investigative journalism about issues that matter most to Canadians. Based on an Artificial Intelligence framework, our technology will enable our members to partner with a cross-country network of investigative journalists, and to be part of the impact by taking action on issues that matter most to them.

Our journalists work for you. Their job is to listen carefully, to involve the audience in the choices we make about what we cover and to stay with stories in order to deepen our impact. Our work is the opposite of today’s click-bait, round-the-clock news media landscape. We put the audience first. We thrive not on conflict, but on meaningful solutions to issues confronting all Canadians.

We’ll start next year with 10,000 members. Our goal is to grow to 30,000 members and 20 investigative units nationwide by 2020.

Why We’ll Succeed

Discourse is uniquely placed to reach, and exceed, these targets.

Our growing team is led by Erin Millar, a female entrepreneur and journalist who has received multiple awards for her writing and innovation. Our executive staff has successfully developed large-scale international organizations and has led some of the world’s most respected media properties, while our newsroom is populated with visionary, award-winning and digital-savvy reporters.

The public reaction? Discourse has above-average audience engagement and loyalty  — metrics that correlate with likelihood to pay for journalism. With your investment, we will build technology that enables our journalists and members to scale this impact-driven approach to journalism.


International Examples

Look at what’s happening around the globe (we sure have). Discourse joins a select, but successful, group of media companies forging new funding models that put real people at the heart of what they do and how they do it.

The New York Times now generates 57 per cent of its revenue from its audience.

Holland’s De Correspondent broke records with an audience-funded model that started with 20,000 backers and $1.7 million in funding from individuals. They now have 56,000 members.

El Español raised $4 million through equity crowdfunding, and now has 5,624 small shareholders and a staff of 100.

From Netflix to news: subscription models are the future of audience-building and retention. Reaching audiences through a membership model that involves our readers in our content and impact — not by putting content behind a paywall — is the future of profitable, public-service media in Canada.


Revenue Model

Journalism has long been monetized through hybrid models, in which no single revenue source pays the full cost of production. We will grow Discourse through a hybrid model of diversified revenues, similar to other successful digital media companies that achieve profitability through a mix of subscriptions, events and sponsorship.

We will continue to grow our existing revenue streams, including collaborative media campaigns, government and development grants, the Discourse Insight Lab, corporate sponsorship and media commissions. Your investment will enable us to introduce a new membership revenue stream in 2018 that will drive our national expansion.

We’ll continue to develop new revenue streams, including book publishing, licensing content for educational purposes, data communication services and repackaging research into intelligence products.

Use of Proceeds

Assuming the maximum raise of $750,000, the proceeds will be used as follows:

  • Expanded journalistic capacity to grow audience: 78 per cent ($585,000)
  • Marketing and sales: 8 per cent ($60,000)
  • Website development: 14 per cent ($105,000)

Exit Strategy

We are building Discourse for the long haul and plan to create value for our shareholders, in terms of impact and profit, for years to come. Once we have proven the success of this model in Canada, we will gear up for dramatic growth and consider the best exit for shareholders. This may take the form of continued dividends, offering buybacks to shareholders, or an eventual strategic merger or acquisition.

Investment Highlights

  • Current target raise: $500,000
  • Maximum current raise: $750,000
  • Minimum current raise: No minimum
  • Pre-money valuation: $4,250,000
  • Equity offered (target raise): 10%
  • Equity offered (maximum raise): 15%
  • Offering type: Common Shares (with Voting Trust Agreement)
  • Price per share: $1
  • Minimum investment: $250
  • You’ll get: a one-year Discourse membership and recognition as a Founding Member 

Become a Founding Member of Discourse

We’re asking you, our fellow Canadians, to fund this new model of journalism — not to donate so a few more stories can be written about a hot topic or two, but rather to invest in a long-term solution to Canada’s media collapse.

Just as we believe that great journalism is needed like never before, we believe that media that exists to serve our citizens should be owned by them. Help build the next generation of media in this country by becoming a Founding Member of Discourse.

By investing, you will enable us to reach an audience of millions through our continued media partnerships, and grow our community of paying members eager to engage in constructive discourse about ideas that matter.

You will enable us to build the most diverse and inclusive newsroom in Canada — in the staff we hire, the topics we cover, and how and where we report.

And we hope that as we grow, others will too. We want our success to inspire the arrival of diverse new media organizations in Canada after years of industry contraction: media for and about all Canadians.

Ours is a big country. It needs many strong voices. 

Discourse Media. 

Be part of it. Own part of it.

Meet the Team
Erin Millar
CEO & Founder
Rachel Nixon
Executive Editor
Caitlin Havlak
Chief Operating Officer
Lindsay Sample
Managing Editor
Anita Li
Media Innovation Editor
Brielle Morgan
Francesca Fionda
Data Reporter
Wawmeesh Hamilton
Emma Jones
#womenRAISE - FrontFundr & The RAISE Collective
Apr 27, 2018 12:00 AM
The event happened 7 months ago.
Q&A about becoming a shareholder of Discourse Media
Apr 25, 2018 12:00 AM
The event happened 7 months ago.

Erin Millar, Founder and CEO

April 19, 2018

Update: Ready for some huge news?!

Dear supporters,

Eight short weeks ago, I wrote to our investors and supporters to update them on what happened when we set out to raise $1 million in funding to take Discourse Media national. We had raised 60 per cent of our goal — $350,000 from FrontFundr, and $250,000 from other investors. It was a remarkable result, but short of our goal. I asked: how does one talk about audacious goals so very nearly achieved? 

I also asked for help. And help I received.

I’m thrilled to share that we’re now just $50,000 away from hitting that milestone of $1 million in investment capital! Will you help push us over the finish line?

Until the end of April, you too can invest in the future of media in Canada by becoming a shareholder in Discourse Media.

And that’s not my only news: we have soft launched our new platform The Discourse into the world! Last week, after 9 months of design, prototyping, user feedback and testing, we released a closed beta of The Discourse to the first group of Founding Members. Our FrontFundr investors made that possible. By investing in The Discourse, you are joining the growing community of Founding Members building a new approach to journalism from the ground up.

Need to know more? Still on the fence? On April 25, I’ll be hosting a webinar to answer questions about the investment opportunity and offer a sneak peak of The Discourse. Register here. 

Let's do this!

With warmth, 

Erin, on behalf of The Discourse team

Erin Millar

February 16, 2018

Update: What happened when we set out to raise $1M to build a new media company

Dear friends and supporters:

Now a few short weeks into 2018, I wanted to update you on what happened during our $1 million investment drive to take Discourse national, and invite you one last time to join us in building a new media offering for Canada.

As you probably now know, 300 investors stepped up, contributing a total of $600,000 through our FrontFundr campaign and other means. The most exciting part, to me, is how diverse the new owners of Discourse are — from court judges, students and Indigenous leaders to tech startup founders, David Suzuki and media innovators. 

That’s a pretty amazing vote of confidence in the future of serious journalism in Canada. Still, we haven’t yet reached our goal. And so, since Christmas, we’ve been busy talking to investors who, encouraged by the community who rallied around us during the equity crowdfunding campaign, can help us reach $1 million in funding. I’ll have some exciting funding announcements to share soon. 

Until we reach that $1 million funding milestone, we’ll be working hard to finish the fundraising job by inviting Canadians to build Discourse with us. That’s where you come in. Here are three ways you can help:

  1. If you wished you could have participated in our equity crowdfunding investment drive before Christmas but couldn’t, we have reopened the campaign for one month only until March 15. So visit our FrontFundr page to complete your investment. Some people asked to invest through their RRSPs, so if that is of interest to you, please email erin@discoursemedia.org directly soon (the RRSP deadline is end of February).

  1. If you would like to support us but investment isn’t a fit, you can still become a Founding Member of The Discourse. Next month, we will be releasing a beta version of our new media offering to a maximum of 1,000 members, including investors. If you’d like to be among the first people to see Canada’s newest media outlet, you can sign up to receive an invitation here and help us beta test The Discourse.

  2. Spread the word! Can you help us reach our goal by sharing this with your friends? 

Thank you, again, for your support as Discourse set out to achieve the audacious goal of seeding new journalism capacity in a country that so needs it. I hope you’ll join us in the journey.

With warmth, 


P.S. If you’d like to hear our forthcoming big funding announcement and follow along as Discourse grows, you can sign up for our bi-weekly journalism innovation newsletter.


December 23, 2017

Closing Update From FrontFundr

Discourse Media's campaign has officially come to a close. 

As of this writing, Friday afternoon, Discourse Media has successful collected subscriptions of over $250,000 with a further $86,000 currently in process—and that’s a win worth celebrating!

With this massive increase of subscriptions this last week, we’ve now started the process of closing. But due to the holiday office closure, along with the final rush of subscriptions we had, we expect it will take approximately another 7-10 days business days to complete the processing and close the current subscriptions. 

For All Completed Investors:

  • Hang tight as we finalize the legal process to complete the final rush of subscriptions and the process of closing the campaign. 
  • We will notify you with any updates along the way.  

For All In Process Investors:

  • You now have until Friday, January 5 @ 3:00pm to complete your investment steps in order to be included in this first closing. 
  • Our team will be responding and following up with enquiries and support on January 2, when the office re-opens.  

So, for those of you who made it into the first closing, welcome to the Discourse family of new investors and more importantly, welcome to your new community. Your actions are historic and without you, Discourse would not have succeeded. 

Happy Holidays, 

The FrontFundr Team

Erin Millar

December 19, 2017

It takes a village to raise a company

Dear friends,

Four years ago I was an independent reporter working for several leading Canadian and international media companies — and I was frustrated. I dreamt of having the time to uncover important truths rather than chase the same old stories that everybody else was chasing. I wanted to serve diverse audiences rather than advertisers, to measure my success in impact instead of clicks.

It is easy to feel defeated when the disruption of the advertising business model is leading to newspaper closures and layoffs. When men in positions of power in media continue to be revealed as having abused women. When Trump is in the White House in part because of the phenomenon of fake news.

I no longer feel powerless. Today, I am more hopeful than I’ve been in my entire career. Because I now have a committed and growing group of people around me who have the experience, talent and determination to build a sustainable media company that truly serves the public.

It takes a village to raise a company. I know that Discourse is more likely to succeed because of the diverse group of shareholders who are putting their insights, networks and economic power behind us. I am inspired to keep building.

It has been an amazing experience these past six weeks to put Discourse’s body of work in front of people like you and ask for help. For us at Discourse, this campaign isn’t only about raising money but also about asking our supporters — our friends, colleagues in the media, community members, family — to buy into the hope we’re feeling, to join us on this journey over the coming months and years.

The opportunity to become an owner of Discourse ends in three days, at 11:59pm PT on December 22. We are choosing not to sit idly by as the old advertising-driven models continue to crumble. Join us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Happy holidays,

Erin Millar
Founder and CEO

Erin Millar

December 18, 2017

One week left to become an owner of Discourse


Hear from some of our staff and supporters about why you should invest in our growing company.

There’s just one week left to become an owner of Discourse Media. 

With more than $240,000 in investments being processed and $250,000 from a lead investor in the bank, we’re well on our way to our goal of raising $1 million from Discourse’s community of supporters. Will you join us?

News that yet more newspapers are closing in Canada signals, once again, that we can’t wait for someone else to fix journalism. As leading media executive and Discourse investor David Skok says: “We need independent journalism in Canada that tackles our most pressing issues. Discoursebelieves, as I do, that independence comes from reader support.”

And that’s exactly what you are supporting by investing in Discourse: you are building a new, sustainable model for independent journalism that serves Canadians and is owned by Canadians.

It’s time to build a new generation of Canadian journalism. Own part of it.

Discourse owners are investing an average of $1,500.

You can become an owner for just $250 and up.

Your investment opportunity ends on Friday, December 22.


Because this is an investment and not a donation, the process to buy shares is a little more complicated than “click to donate” crowdfunding. There’s paperwork to go through via FrontFundr’s online platform, but the process is relatively simple once you start and FrontFundr provides support. You’ll be asked for some personal information, which FrontFundr guards and does not share with Discourse.

Questions? Read our FAQs or reply to this email to get in touch.

With optimism and gratitude,

Erin Millar
Founder and CEO

Erin Millar

December 13, 2017

The final countdown is on!

The final countdown is on! Share why you are investing in the next generation of Canadian media at #OwnTheDiscourse

Over the past few weeks, the Discourse Media team has been tirelessly making the case for why Canadians need to support the next generation of Canadian media — why we can’t wait for someone else to fix journalism for us.

So far, nearly 160 people have said YES! and, by investing, they joined the community of people building a new model of journalism for Canada, one that puts people before advertisers.

People like David Suzuki are investing in Discourse: “I’ve invested in Discourse Media because we desperately need outlets like this that exemplify what journalism should be: a public service.”

Discourse’s own employees are investing, including media innovation editor Anita Li: “I invested in Discourse because we combine the best of both worlds: the journalistic rigour of old and the innovation of new.”

Leaders in the media industry are investing in Discourse, such as digital media executive David Skok (formerly of the Boston Globe and Toronto Star): “We need independent journalism in Canada that tackles our most pressing issues. 

Discourse believes, as I do, that independence comes from reader support.”

Influencers like Naomi Klein are supporting Discourse: “With newspapers shutting down across Canada, it's a great time to support innovative media models like this one. A vacuum is opening up, let's try to fill it with quality journalism rather than advertorial.”

Beloved Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti highlighted Discourse in her column “From the grave of local news, fresh hope rises” and argued: “If some people build, the rest of us should buy. If not, we have no one to blame when all the words are gone.”

We are now less than two weeks away from closing our FrontFundr campaign. Each of the last 12 days of the campaign, we will share a new reason why people are investing in Discourse

Help us reach our goal by sharing why YOU are investing in the next generation of Canadian media on Twitter and Facebook at #OwnTheDiscourse. 

Discourse Media

November 30, 2017

Complete your investment today to meet one of the most influential thinkers on media in North America

Our investment campaign is making waves: from city radio to national newspapers, Discourse’s funding model for creating a sustainable, thriving news industry is receiving attention across Canada… and beyond. That’s thanks to you. 


We’ve previously shared how our close relationship with The Membership Puzzle Project is an asset to Discourse. On Thursday, December 7, Membership Puzzle Project director, esteemed media critic and NYU professor Jay Rosen will visit Vancouver to support Discourse, meet the team, and join us for a much anticipated event: 


Truth-telling in Peril: Politics, Journalism… And What Comes Next. NYU’s Jay Rosen in Conversation with Discourse Media’s Erin Millar.


As investors in Discourse you already understand the importance of finding stories that matter… and rebuilding trust in news media. This event promises to be an electrifying exploration of this most pressing issue. 


We’re offering all completed investors two complimentary tickets and access to an exclusive pre-event reception with Jay. 

We want to thank you for your commitment to Discourse—and to share the future of news media with someone in your network.


Still haven’t completed your investment? 

There’s time. Complete your form before Wednesday, December 6 to receive two tickets to Truth-telling in Peril an access to an intimate pre-event reception with Jay.


Join us on Thursday, December 7

… and please continue to help us spread the word.


To get your tickets visit jayrosen.eventbrite.ca and use the code “DiscourseFF” when you check out. RSVP for the pre-event reception by emailing lauren@discoursemedia.org.


Yours in gratitude and optimism,

Erin Millar

Founder and CEO, Discourse Media

Erin Millar

November 23, 2017

Two weeks in and Discourse is riding high on the momentum

Wow, what an adventure! Since launching our investment campaign two weeks ago, more than 100 Canadians have stepped up to invest in the future of media in this country. With over $220,000 in investments in process, we are almost half way to our goal of raising $500,000 from our community of supporters.

That’s 100 people who have invested a minimum of $250 (and an average of just over $2,000) to become shareholders and founding members of Discourse. These people are seeding investigative journalism in Canada for years to come — and who want to see a return on their investment. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

We have other news! I am honoured to announce that Discourse is one of SheEO’s “Top 25 Business Ventures in Canada” making us a finalist for up to $500,000 in funding contributed by 500 Canadian women. SheEO was founded because although women start businesses at 1.5 times the pace of men, they only receive 4% of venture capital. Investing in women’s businesses is a feminist act.

We are inspired by the powerful group of women who have stepped up to back Discourse's funding campaign and so we are hosting a happy hour on December 4 to celebrate how women are democratizing capital, leading the development of the next generation of Canadian media, and generally kicking butt. RSVP here and invite your friends.

Check out this coverage of Discourse’s national expansion announcement!

Discourse Media is aiming to raise $1 million in growth capital (J-Source)

Three years in, Discourse looks to membership to power its national expansion (NiemanLab)

With optimism, Erin (founder and CEO)


Discourse Media

October 19, 2017

After three years of award-winning journalism, Discourse is poised for this

From the beginning, Discourse Media’s innovative model of collaborative, impact-driven journalism has been recognised with national and international awards. See our full list of awards and explore the corresponding stories below:

2017 Edward Murrow Award for Best Investigative Reporting (international small digital news category) from the Radio Television Digital News Association for Justice Is Not Blind, a collaborative investigation into why Indigenous people are overrepresented in the Canadian justice system (with Maclean’s).

2017 Silver for the Best Digital Editorial Package from the Digital Publishing Awards for Power Struggle, a collaboration with journalists around the world investigating solutions to energy poverty and Canada’s role (with over dozen media partners including the New York Times, Guardian, Daily Maverick, Al Jazeera and more).

2017 Silver for the Best Investigative Reporting from the National Magazine Awards (with Maclean’s) See: Justice Is Not Blind.
2017 Finalist for Best Long-Form Feature Writing from the National Magazine Awards (with Maclean’s). See: Justice Is Not Blind.

2017 Finalist for the CJF Jackman Award for Excellence from the Canadian Journalism Foundation. 

Stories highlighted by the judges include: What made this Haida clan potlatch so historic?In First Nations, freedom of the press is unclear; and Canada's prisons are the 'new residential schools.

2016 CJF Innovation Award from the Canadian Journalism Foundation for Moving Forward, a collaboration with 14 media outlets and academics to create deeper issue-based data journalism about a high stakes transit referendum in Metro Vancouver. Our news app the Cost of Commute Calculator, which allowed users to punch in their commute and see a breakdown of the full cost to themselves and to society, was cited by journalists and experts around the world.

2015 Bob Carty Fellowship awarded by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

2015 finalist for Best Data Journalism Website of the Year by the Global Editors’ Network at the International Data Journalism Awards for Moving Forward.

2015 Solutions Journalism Fellowship from Ashoka Canada.

Discourse Media

October 19, 2017

Discourse has been making waves in the national and global press for its innovative model

Journalists across Canada and beyond have been following Discourse. Explore a selection of media coverage below: 

Op-ed: “News industry should feel full digital disruption.” Founder and CEO Erin Millar and President Ian Gill in Policy Options

Interview: “The media disruptors.” Erin Millar on CANADALAND

Press: “Built on collaboration, Discourse Media closes in on profit.” MediaShift

Press: “What does it take to be a ‘full-service’ digital journalism organization? Ask Discourse Media.” Nieman Journalism Lab

Press: “Discourse Media uses solutions journalism to ‘track the slow burn of change.’” journalism.co.uk

Op-ed: “Unfetter tax code to support quality journalism.”Erin Millar and Ian Gill in Policy Options 

Interview: “The news is dead so what comes next?” Ian Gill on CANADALAND

Press: “Special series: Collaborative journalism.”MediaShift

Press: “Journalism startups carve out niches for themselves in Canada.”J-Source

Press: “Is collaboration the key to journalism’s future?”The Tyee

Press: “Investigating what’s going right.” The Signal

227 total, 59 anonymous
Jeanette Ageson
Michael Gillespie
Brielle Morgan
Alfred Hermida
Anita Li
Caitlin Havlak
Rachel Nixon
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