With print (supposedly) dying a slow death and terrestrial radio and traditional television having trouble keeping up with the times, it’s natural that the news has exploded in the online world. Canadians are heading online more and more to get their daily dose of news, and while news sites offer both reporting and editorialized content, the online magazine has found its place on the web as well. The Propagandist has gone one step further than the more popular Tyee and Rabble portals — they’ve thrown a heaping dose of satire into the mix. And Canadians are infamous on the world stage for their sense of humour (closing ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics excepted).
The Propagandist seems to shift locations every once in a while (at least, according to its Twitter profile), but the editor and “chief propagandist” is most certainly a Canuck. Jonathon Narvey leads a motley crew of “propagandists” that write about stories that are breaking around the world, whether they are political, cultural or controversial in nature.
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“Our political commentary is often earnest, quirky, satirical and always provocative,” Narvey says. “We’ve got contributing writers from the left and the right. I like to think that the site is the ‘revolution of the centre’.”
But as the web has become a destination for those looking for compelling stories and social commentary, The Propagandist has plenty of company. Narvey makes no bones about it: standing out in this racket isn’t easy, but there can be ways to do it. Diversification and pushing the envelope are two tactics that The Propagandist has undertaken, and they appear to be serving the site well.
“Other political sites, magazines, etc. already take a “hard left” or a “hard right” stance, and that is because to get noticed on the Internet you tend to have to be a bit extreme,” Narvey continued. “One of the ways we’re trying to differentiate ourselves is not so much about what we represent…but who we’re going after are people or movements that you would think would get “hit” quite a bit more than they do.”
Narvey went on to mention such examples as the Gaza floatilla, talking about Hugo Chavez and the Taliban. Narvey believes that a “Free pass” is often given to these people and movements by political commentators from both the left and right sides of the spectrum. Through the use of lesser utilized (yet appealing) methods of getting messages across such as infographics and a new podcast, The Propagandist offers several ways to deliver bold arguments and , above all, the truth.
The online magazine also makes no secret that they are actively recruiting donors, although the donation amounts are as tongue in cheek as the content can be. While $1 per month is where the low end of the spectrum lies, the amounts progressing from there are rather…staggering.
The Propagandist steadily rises in readership, not just from Canada but on a global scale, and Narvey says the long-term plans for the site are very achievable.
“Like all media outlets, we want to go big and reach more readers,” Narvey added. “It’s so important to publish original content by reputable writers and experts in their field. We want to keep getting and delivering quality content for our fans, whether it’s video, podcasts or the written word. I don’t think we’ll ever be the next Time Magazine, but to be a household name — that’s what we’re aiming for.”
In a country where the polarization of the political landscape has become apparent, The Propagandist has found a place where it can both comfortably and uncomfortably reside. And it wouldn’t have it any other way.