Media

Why Joey Coleman Deserves Your Donation

Joey Coleman's commitment to free and open news, focus on information that matters and dedication to citizen engagement enrich our community are worth supporting.

By Gavin Schulz
Published March 11, 2013

Once again, Joey Coleman is raising money to continue his independent journalism in Hamilton. I want to tell you why Joey and his work is important to Hamilton. I hope that you will strongly consider giving to Joey's campaign and helping him continue his journalism in this city!

Some people may question why we need to fund an independent journalist when we already have news organizations like the Hamilton Spectator, Ancaster/Dundas/Mountain News and others. Certainly these organizations should be enough to keep tabs on our government and keep us all informed with what's going on in our city, no?

Commitment to Free and Open News

For me, the most important distinction, both practically and philosophically, between the major papers and Joey is his commitment to free and open news for everyone in Hamilton, whether or not they have funded his work. He believes that journalism is a public good and no citizen should be denied access to the resulting output.

For the past few months he has worked tirelessly to post agendas, livestream council sessions and report from around the city all without erecting a paywall or shutting out those who did not fund his initial campaign.

Other news organizations have been less committed to this principle with the Spectator erecting a metered-paywall and YourHamiltonBiz offering its content exclusively to paid subscribers.

While every organization is free to decide for themselves what their business model should be it is clear a broadly informed citizenry will not be achieved if news is only available to those who pay.

Difference in Priorities

Secondly, Joey has put his commercial competitors to shame many a time by focusing on important issues and events while his competitors have either neglected to cover these events or instead redirected their resources to less important events.

The best example of this is a nursing home fire that occurred and Joey was on the scene in short order livestreaming, tweeting and disseminating information from fire officials, while the Spectator's reporters were live-tweeting the filming of a movie a few streets over. The difference in priorities could not be more clear!

Joey was also the first journalist in the city to livestream council, police board and school board meetings and continues to do so on a regular basis. Everything that is said in these meetings is now permanently archived on the internet and that means elected officials can be held accountable with no shadow of doubt over what was said in the past.

With just a few thousand dollars, Joey was able to give everyone in Hamilton access to the full proceedings of every meeting while other news organizations have made no attempt to do this in the past.

A few weeks ago, Joey streamed the Mayor's annual address to the Chamber of Commerce so that anyone could hear for themselves the full text of the Mayor's address. Traditionally, anyone not invited to the event could not have heard first-hand what was said by the Mayor, instead having to read a filtered down version of his speech in an article the next day.

Citizen Engagement

Third, no one works harder than Joey to engage with citizens and answer their concerns. Without a doubt social media is the most important communications platform for the general public and in this arena Joey has really been shining.

He is probably the most active Twitter user in Hamilton and does far more to disseminate and collate news than any other journalist in this city. Whenever an issue or event crops up, you can expect Joey to be tweeting about it and curating the tweets of others.

He is relentless about responding to citizen's questions and concerns over the affairs of the city government and makes every effort to answer them as fully as possible.

But Joey has also done a lot of work in moving the city toward being more open and transparent; work that has largely gone unnoticed by most people in Hamilton but from which we all benefit.

He has been pushing for more transparency not only through his livestreaming but also his work with freedom of information requests, posting council agendas online and advocating for open data.

Open Data

As just one example, I want to talk a little more in depth about Joey's work on the open data file in the city as this is the issue on which I've had the fortune of working with Joey over the last two years.

Joey has been relentless in working with elected officials and bureaucrats alike to get the city to not only adopt but embrace open data. He has worked tirelessly on the HSR real-time transit feed issue, and his work paid off recently when Don Hull, the director of the HSR, announced that we could be expecting real-time HSR feeds in the near future.

Joey has also worked to inform citizens about the benefits of open data both by speaking and blogging about it but also by building apps on top of open data sets.

Not even a lack of programming knowledge has ever gotten in Joey's way. When he went to map out all the water spots in the city two summers ago he taught himself about Google Maps and Fusion Tables in order to build a mashup which became Dowsing. He manually scoured the city's website to find all parks, pools, lake and splash pads in Hamilton.

He single-handedly mapped out all the political boundaries (wards, provincial and federal ridings) in the city for use in WardRep. All of this relentless work for no reward but the satisfaction of making life easier for us as citizens.

Consider Donating

I hope you can see why Joey Coleman is so important to our community and that you will consider donating to his crowdfunding campaign and join so many other Hamilton residents.

First published on Gavin Schulz's tumblr.

Gavin Schulz is an open data activist and entrepreneur. He is the creator of Bus Ticker. You can follow him on tumblr and twitter.

19 Comments

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted March 11, 2013 at 13:43:52

Very well stated, Gavin.

In a city with just one mainstream newspaper, one news/talk radio station, and one television station, the citizen journalism of Joey Coleman is providing Hamiltonians with a fresh and set of eyes and ears on municipal affairs and day-to-day local life. One hopes that his important endeavour can become sustainable for the foreseeable future.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2013 at 16:25:28 in reply to Comment 87203

Thank you, this round of crowdfunding is one more step on the path to sustainable local journalism.

The old journalism model is dying, and in many cases dead. We, in Hamilton, are experimenting with a new model of supporting high-quality labour-intensive public service journalism.

Thank you everyone for your support.

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By Shea (anonymous) | Posted March 11, 2013 at 21:45:05

The question for me is not whether Joey C. should receive some $$contributions, but why he should have to go begging, so to speak. It's my impression that public interest orgnztns in the U.S. do a (better?) job than Canada--if there is any such effort at all here. When legitimacy and need are demonstrated, why shouldn't Joey, Citizens At City Hall, and Raise the Hammer, receive funding to offset real expenses in providing what has been exhaustive, important, widely recognized and--yes--high quality citizen journalism? CATCH, e.g., has been doing this for just over nine years now.

If there is a dedicated fund in Canada to fund citizen journalism, I'm not aware of it; and yes, yes, a curated fund would be full of requests from all political angles, but the U.S. seems to do better at this kind of thing. A non-profit orgnztn, but non-gov't, with community/citizen benefit criteria and a board or curator to decide on funding recipients could work. The Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, and other similar orgnztns across Canada have been doing good, important work for decades--even with gov't support, maintaining quasi-arm's-length relations with gov'ts. Undoubtedly private media orgnztns could be pitched to contribute, their current dire$$ circumstances notwithstanding. //

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By me, me and me! (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 12:22:47

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By me, me and me! (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 12:27:55

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By yet another capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 15:14:21 in reply to Comment 87210

Based on the responses on Joey's crowd funding site (nearly $1000 just in the last day) I'd say he's got plenty of support. Even despite self obsessed anonymous trolls like you.

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By another capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 14:44:54

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By yet another capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 15:09:00 in reply to Comment 87211

Seriously? If you don't want to done, don't. But feel free to enjoy the free reporting.

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By yet another capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 15:09:23 in reply to Comment 87212

"donate" not "done"

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By JohnTheRoofGuy (registered) | Posted March 13, 2013 at 02:43:05

Thanks Gavin, for shedding some light on all Joey's efforts. I can't believe all he does to inform the citizenry of this city. The link you provided to the Indiegogo site made it easy to contribute.

Special thanks to Joey Coleman.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2013 at 16:26:08 in reply to Comment 87219

Thank you for the support

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted March 14, 2013 at 01:58:33

And when I ran into Joey at Art Crawl, he was wearing his embassador/tour guide hat introducing someone to our great city.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2013 at 16:26:38 in reply to Comment 87227

It was good seeing you again Lawrence, hope to see you at City Hall in the near future advocating for positive change in our city.

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By Voice of Fire (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2013 at 13:07:26

Who is Joey Coleman? He is a genuine good person that has chosen to do needed service for the benefit of many.Although I have never had the privelege of meeting Mr. Coleman,a donation is in order and a thank you for his service to the community.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2013 at 16:26:46 in reply to Comment 87230

Thank you

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By Curious (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2013 at 17:01:48

What's the difference between the Spec's paywall and Joey Coleman asking for donations?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 15, 2013 at 00:25:40 in reply to Comment 87232

You mean beside the obvious difference that one is voluntary?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 15, 2013 at 00:05:17 in reply to Comment 87232

One has value and the other is crap. I'll defer to you to determine which one i feel is crap.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 18, 2013 at 14:47:45

From what I hear Joey may be better served submitting well written pieces on-time to to those willing to pay him rather than begging money from others.

Kudos to you guys for supporting your friend and all, but really Joey, how long do you plan on making begging for money your business plan? Seems awfully short sighted to me.

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