Welcome to our first online publication!
(August 6 / Revised August 18, 2003) – SINCE the launching of Shunpiking on 3 December 1995, our magazine has matured and developed to become a vibrant news and quality information source for Nova Scotians, readers across Canada and not a few readers around the globe. Now we are launching Shunpiking Online on the World Wide Web to complement and extend the reach, topicality and timeliness of Shunpiking Magazine.
This initiative is being taken at a time when any serious discussion of the concerns of the people is absent in the media. The mass media in Canada is increasingly concentrated into a few powerful hands, intertwined with powerful Anglo-American giants that dominate the flow of information, culture and debate on the world scale. This same colossi dominate the electronic media, including cyberspace, the so-called great information superhighway or Global Village, for whom every traveler and resident is a consumer and everything one could desire is for sale. The effect is dramatic. Instead of offering information and knowledge as an inseparable part of a culture vital for human beings to function as informed citizens, to comprehend and establish themselves in the world, people are on the receiving end of an avalanche of disinformation, diversion, demonization and cultural aggression, especially from “down south”, often disguised as “entertainment.” Stenography and stereotypes, half-truths and lies, gossip and rumors, toxic “dumbing down”, morbid cynicism and self-censorship – proceeding from a preconceived political, financial and ideological agenda – have replaced objective and serious journalism. Any notions of a “free press”, cultural sovereignty, and social conscience and responsibility to the public and the education of young people have been thrown out. The national media monopolies based in Central Canada effectively marginalizes Maritimers and other “have not” regions of Canada, as they do with working people, the poor and dispossessed.
Ordinary journalists and other media workers in Canada and on the world scale themselves face layoffs, declining salaries, the entry of part-timers without the guarantee of steady jobs, police and administrative reprisals, homicide, censorship and restrictions over the right of association.
The need for an enlightened media that is healthy and positive, that seeks to address the concerns of Nova Scotians without fear or indifference and upholds their rights, exists more than ever. This remains our constant aim – to make a contribution towards developing a new media and a new journalism in Canada – an independent media that is of assistance to people and part of the movement for enlightenment, progress, empowerment/democratic renewal and nation-building.
The demand for Shunpiking Online is clear. In the month of February, 2003 alone — not only Black History Month in Nova Scotia but the period when people around the globe were striving to avert the war against Iraq with one of the most profound upsurges of humanity in recent times — shunpiking.org received 6,000 unique visitors; this at a web site which had only been hinted at, which did not actually exist, and which we have only been able to develop now. Shunpiking Online is very much a response to this demand.
Beginning in September, Shunpiking Online will be updated regularly as an original source of news, information and commentaries, including items of interest from public affairs, labour, social justice, culture, natural history, amateur sport and recreation, tourism, business and the economy and other fields of interest.
For us the media is a social property and has a social function. We aim to provide greater space for the different collectives of Nova Scotians – from fishermen to Gaelic language speakers – to bring their voice and concerns to the mainstream of the society. We want to develop a journalism and writing that truly reflects the reality of living today, as well as much of that which is beautiful that is taking place in society and the natural world.
We aim to serve the growing needs for in-depth information, context and analysis of provincial, national and world affairs, explaining developments in their proper context. The new and complex phenomena of the globalized world demands information and a different point of view that has not been manipulated by the monopoly media. Internet publishing gives us this opportunity and space to expand this coverage. Thus, rather than news, much of our material initially will be news analysis and commentaries.
E-mail reaches Shunpiking from as far away as Asia and Scotland. Many of the visitors to our office express an interest in obtaining back issues and in-depth articles about Nova Scotia and the Maritimes. We will be steadily posting hundreds of pages from the excellent content of back editions of Shunpiking magazine to make the texts more accessible, especially for students and teachers.
We will be able to offer visitors who use our web site unrivalled depth on many topics of interest; the fisheries, our in-depth historical timelines and supplements on Black and African Nova Scotian History, Mi’kmaq and First Nations, and Gaelic Nova Scotia (Mac-talla), “Discovering Nova Scotia’s Natural Heritage”, reviews of books, exhibitions, theatre especially community theatre, and so forth. The timelines and resource lists will assist the visitor with immediate reference points to gather other information online. Important works, such as the Dossier on Palestine: A Land, A People and other New Media Publications such as the best-seller The Kids’ Baseball Book by Curtis Coward and Tony Seed, will be featured as sub-sites with the prominence and accessibility they deserve.
The popular Hikes, Rambles & Outings will commence in September and be updated monthly. It will soon feature an interactive form for event organizers to update their listings online. It will complement and reinforce our forthcoming and long overdue Outdoor Resources Directory. The ORD will also be available online, with a searchable data bank of over 2,200 outdoor providers and links to the entire system of land and water trails in the province.
We hope you will find this website useful and practical, interesting and informative. We hope that shunpiking.org will eventually become one of the most comprehensive, varied and useful resource and general reference archives in Atlantic Canada.
Some are concerned that internet publishing will adversely affect the magazine, but our conviction is that Shunpiking Online can only strengthen it. Rather than simplifying our work, it will no doubt complicate our lives!
Throughout the twists and turns of the past eight years, we strove to extend our magazine and writing deeper amongst Nova Scotians, as a reality which lives amongst people, as the main guarantee of our publication’s future. Shunpiking is now distributed free through some 820 locations from Yarmouth to Bay St. Lawrence as well in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Prince Edward Island, St. John’s, Toronto, Ottawa and Bar Harbour, Maine. It is read by an estimated 100,000 people.
Many people ask who writes for Shunpiking. An incredible amount of articles, ideas and suggestions emanate from our readers – and literally hundreds are received over the phone, through the mail and the Internet over the course of several months – or just walk in the door. They are a vital and important element in our approach. Our contributors, including some nationally known writers, write with knowledge, passion and a social conscience, and are bound by a unique understanding of the popular and political culture of their community and the region around them. Many actively distribute and discuss the magazine on a broad basis. Our hard work has inspired others to develop this own voices. Our modest growth parallels the striking panorama of independent media and its expansion on the world scale.
Shunpiking Online is written and developed solely by volunteers from various places around Nova Scotia. Tony Seed, who has an experienced professional background in the media and is an award-winning journalist and editor, will head up our staff. Shunpiking Online is an independent, self-reliant internet publication which does not speak on behalf of any political or religious party or special interest group.
We would again like to warmly thank not only all the participants but also all those friends and colleagues who have generously contributed their valued opinions and insights over the past few years on how to develop shunpiking.org. But now we are venturing down this road, we want and need more of your help, from more of you in more of the areas in which we would expand our work! If the stockbrokers, bankers and lawyers take care of their media to look after their interests, why shouldn’t the rest of us? To sit back and be indifferent is not an option.
We are open to all those forces who have the same interests. We are open to those wishing to work with us as editorial interns in an honourable and ennobling profession. Through our hands-on program, interns gain experience unlike that found at any journalism school; in addition to fundamental research and investigative techniques, we try and foster the humane values, critical thinking and independent perspectives vital to a free press. In turn, they assist to further professionalize our work. Please consult our submission guidelines that will be posted in September but do not wait to send us your material or queries. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are beginning with as much fanfare as our first number in 1995: none. We will rely on hard work, clear writing, honest reporting and you the reader to become known. You, the reader, will be the judge.
Our door is mostly always open, and the coffee’s mostly always on. Please drop by at 6211 North Street when you’re in Halifax. We sincerely welcome your opinions.
The Shunpiking Online team
Thirty three editions of Shunpiking Online were published between July 2003 and January-April 2008. All editions of Shunpiking Online are archived. (The URL for Shunpiking Online was originally shunpiking.com, and it is now archived at shunpiking.org)
Fifty two editions of Shunpiking Magazine were published between December, 1995 and May, 2009. As yet, there is no online archive of the print edition. A complete set is available at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0N4. A virtually complete set is available at the Nova Scotia Provincial Archives, 6016 University Ave, Halifax. The Nova Scotia Legislative Library (2nd Floor, Province House, 1726 Hollis Street, Halifax, NS B3J 2P8) subscribed during the length of the publication and may have a set.