Updated: Jul 19, 2022
The Story Behind The Mission
By Bryan Bakker
May 7th, 2022
I had stopped watching local news. I was (am) a bit of a news junky. While many in my life tune out the news, because it makes them feel anxious, I've crossed a critical point of no return it seems. I find that I begin to get anxious if I go too long without watching the news. For me I can't help but to wonder what I'm missing - what's happening - is news breaking somewhere and I'm just gallivanting around completely ignorant to it? This cannot stand!
I'll just take a quick peak.
I make no moral judgement mind you. It's how we each learn to cope with what is clearly a lot of crazy shit going on around the world. My only point is that, despite all this, I only recently started watching local news again. Stupid eh? I've always known that the local news tells us way more about things that actually matter to our every day, then national or international news -- Garbage pick-up, public works projects, local bylaw changes, break-ins - you name it.
This is just as true now as it was before Trump, COVID and the war in Ukraine...
How did I get into this timeline?
I think it happened, the point where I stopped paying attention locally I mean, when our local newspaper, the St. Thomas Times Journal, pulled its once bustling local office and shipped editions in from London. At that point it was like, okay, it'll be local news in name only now.
Whether we like to admit it or not, local news does seem... well... boring.
No flash, or glitzy splash screens or celebrity dramas, or international scandals. Just - you know - garbage pickup, public works projects, bylaw changes, break-ins - yawn.
And that's where many, many of us are at, and have been at, for a long time.
Way too many of us.
For way too long.
Democracy is grassroots.
It wasn't until one night, watching the Daily Show...
I saw a comedy sketch about legislation passed in the states substantially changing America's unionization laws. These were big changes. At the time I had been watching American news a lot and had not heard a mention, not a whisper, not a peep - and, in my mind, this was HUGE news, especially for working folks. That's when I realized...
The Daily Show was/is an important source of news.
Later in life I started sharing time with super talented singer/songwriters and then super talented improv comedians. Not big stars mind you. Moms and Dads, lawyers and carpenters. I don't live in a dense population center. But here they were, singing and performing in front of small, but enthusiastic, crowds. There is so much talent out there, but so few spaces at the top. So few avenues to make a living.
But then, my second epiphany...
If talented improv comedians like these exist everywhere and they can make audiences buckle over laughing, using random suggestions from the crowd, surely they could do something on garbage pick ups, public works projects, by-law changes and break-ins.
And the Newsload was born.
Truth is, local isn't boring at all -- scandal is everywhere -- but too few voters are paying attention to support journalists' salaries and we don't know what we don't know. Local isn't boring. The approach to storytelling that local news has been confined too is. So...
Why not produce comedic content on a local level, telling local stories, then pass the viewers who want to know more off to the pros?
But hasn't this already been done - The Daily Show, Late-Night Comedy, etc.?
No it hasn't. Not locally.
Serious journalistic institutions have to protect their reputations. Their brands can't mix with the kind of comedic journalism required to get modern eyeballs watching. It has to be done by a wholly separate entity. One that, yes has journalistic integrity, buried under all that irreverence, but also has the leeway to say and do the things modern audiences will laugh at.
The only way to do this right - to have the freedom to go far enough with the comedy - is for an outsider to do it.
How It Works:
The Newsload is easy to join. A low monthly subscription fee to use the Newsload brand and start a Newsload outlet.
Find important stories that need to be told. Find trained journalists. Read here to learn the simple rules that will help your outlet thrive.
Find local improv comedians who are remarkable. They're everywhere. They really are. Partner them with talented videographers looking to build portfolio.
Don't get into the weeds - use the issue as the context for the humor. Plant seeds, then move on, Entertain first, then inform.
Give viewers an easy way to learn more about profiled stories. Overlay comedy with existing local news infrastructure. - become partners, with local newspapers, radio and TV.
Grow an audience through outreach, social media and local allies. Bring on sponsors.
As more join, the brand gains more recognition and everyone benefits. There will be important stories and scoops that will get picked up by the media. By the nature of what we're doing, gold is just laying around our local communities. Find it, leverage it for laughs, get local media's attention and repeat.
Monetize your content. Get a referral fee. You promote them. They promote you. Work toward viability.
Done right, the Newsload can become a profitable business model that can grow and last in communities everywhere. A grassroots revitalization of local news, standing on its own, giving local talent, journalists and the arts a critical new voice to make a difference with.
Is your load coming yet?
See? It works. Even if you were offended.
I can't wait to see what people come up with...