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September 10, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:34am

The Canary hires journalists and creates investigative team year after making cuts

By Charlotte Tobitt

Left-wing news website The Canary has revealed plans to fund a new investigative unit staffed by two journalists.

The website is relaunching 13 months after saying it was forced to make cuts by smears of anti-Semitism, pressure put on advertisers by “political Zionists” and changes to Google and Facebook’s algorithms.

Editor-in-chief and former managing director Drew Rose, who has taken over from Bex Sumner, said the title had survived the “decimation” of its advertising income and “politically-motivated attacks on our staff”.

It has since transitioned to become 95% reader-funded, although it has pledged never to put up a paywall.

The Canary is now funding an investigative journalism unit for six months, with two journalists about to join, with the hope that readers will help keep it going in the long-term.

An email to readers said the unit would focus on data journalism, work with whistleblowers and look at issues such as the Government response to Covid-19.

“We believe this unit will be of value to our existing readers and attract new readers,” it said. “We hope they will work with us to secure funding to continue the unit after the initial six months.

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“A reader-funded investigative unit that is responsive to the requests and demands of The Canary readership is something people have asked us for since our inception.”

The Canary is also hiring a “fresh intake of hungry, talented journalists” after the newsroom was forced to become “much leaner” last year.

Editor-at-large and co-founder Kerry-Anne Mendoza said staff are being offered increased pay, with only a 20% gap between the site’s top and lowest earners.

Until August 2019, all Canary writers were employed on freelance contracts. Mendoza had told Press Gazette in 2016, a year after launch, that the site had a 25-strong team working part-time.

Last year it was forced to cut the size of the newsroom to seven staff writers and editors working part-time and in broader roles as it transitioned to the new, more sustainable model.

Chief operating officer Nancy W Mendoza said: “It’s not just about fighting to create a better world outside The Canary. We need to start by creating a safe and nurturing environment for our journalists at work.

“We are committed to providing sustainable employment in a highly professional, supportive, and dynamic workplace. And while funding will continue to be a challenge we have to meet, we are approaching the future with the bravery and audacity that we know our readers appreciate.”

Kerry-Anne Mendoza said readers can also expect more video, a new podcast series and a satirical show after the relaunch is complete by the end of September.

She said: “As The Canary celebrates its fifth birthday, we took time out to transform it from top to bottom, right down to its very founding principles. The Canary has matured to become an essential part of the UK media landscape. With that in mind, we are evolving.”

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