The Vancouver Observer

With the Friend Friday series, we highlight some of the terrific people and companies who choose to cowork at The Network Hub. This week, we turn to the lovely and insightful folks at the Vancouver Observer.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. The Vancouver Observer is an independent, online newspaper. We’re a bunch of passionate writers who love this city, and through our journalism we aim to foster strong community-driven conversation. Along with our coverage of environment, culture, media, real estate and politics, we help Vancouverites explore their city – from the alleyways to the halls of power – so we all can become more informed and empowered citizens. If there’s an issue affecting the people of Vancouver or the Lower Mainland, we’re covering it.

What makes your company different or special? We’re news without paper, and we’re committed to great journalism that goes deep. In a world of constant distractions and instant reactions, we create meaningful content that sparks deep discussions about issues affecting our readers. But it’s not just about reporting: we’re taking a stand for independent media. Everywhere you turn, a news outlet is bought up by corporate interests or snatched by government. Not us. The VO is not “theirs” – it’s yours. In our four short years of existence, we’ve been acknowledged by some impressive awards: We were nominated for the 2013 Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) Excellence in Journalism Award; and we won the 2012 CJF Excellence in Journalism Award and the 2010 Canadian Online Publishing Award for “Best Online-Only Articles.” We’re changing the way news is created and shared, and we intend to keep growing our roots and expanding our reach. Do we cover topical subjects others shy away from? Absolutely. Do we offer eye-opening perspectives? We like to think so.

How did you get started? Linda Solomon Wood founded the VO on a laptop in her living room in 2009, and since then has published more than 5,000 stories touching on every aspect of the city and province, by writers and reporters from all over Canada. She started with a small team of two, a budget of nearly nothing, and the idea to provide meaningful, independent journalism without the constraints of paper or publishing deadlines. Linda’s passion for empowering people by providing quality, independent news is shared by everyone on the VO team. We’re community-minded, and we love to share your stories.

What are you currently working on? Since the launch of Extract: The Pipeline Wars, our book about the Enbridge northern pipeline, in early 2013, we’ve been heavily involved in investigating the issues surrounding our dependence on the oil industry, and our rights as Canadians to be informed about happenings in our backyards. That said, because we cover local news, every day is something different at the VO. And, of course, we’ve got our regular columnists writing about topics such as environment, health, culture, food and television.

What made you decide to co-work at The Network Hub? As our core team grew, Linda’s office was becoming cramped. Our friends at Vancity Buzz had told us about The Network Hub a while ago, and when we finally found time away from editorial duties to look into it, we discovered that co-working at The Network Hub was perfect for our community-minded team. They’ve got awesome reception services, and on a daily basis, we’re sharing the space with like-minded professionals. And, there’s coffee, couches, bike storage and a shower – The Network Hub is quintessential Vancouver.

Any advice you have for other entrepreneurs and small business owners? It’s all about community. Surround yourself with like-minded folks, and never be afraid to ask for feedback.   The Vancouver Observer can be found online at vancouverobserver.com.

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