About

The Times Keeper produces original journalism to help critical and curious Nova Scotians understand and explore the times we're living through together.

Content will be published as a twice weekly podcast, complemented with occasional articles, videos and infographics.

Who's behind it?

The Times Keeper is written, hosted and produced by me, Mark Coffin.

A headshot of Mark Coffin
Mark Coffin, host, writer and producer at the times keeper 

I've been working and volunteering in community organizations trying to raise awareness about public interest issues in Nova Scotia since 2005. Some of my work has involved political advocacy, but the work I've enjoyed the most has always involved public education and journalism. I've produced podcasts, explainer videos, and hosted community events in an effort to help Nova Scotians better understand the issues affecting our communities.

I'm starting The Times Keeper because I want that kind of work to fill my day, rather than be something that just happens off the side of my desk.

Over the last decade and a half, I've watched as the traditional news industry (print, radio and TV) has struggled to explain and contextualize what's happening in our province in ways that the rest of us can understand.

More recently, I've watched local, independent, membership-funded news organizations around the world rise to the challenge of helping their audiences make sense of what's happening in their communities. I've got notebooks full of ideas about engaging ways to report about what's happening here, and I'm excited to start sharing them with you.

The news can be more interesting

I decided to start The Times Keeper because I love making short, documentary-style podcasts and interviewing people with unique perspectives and expertise. I enjoy finding compelling ways to present important information that would otherwise overwhelm or bore you. As I see it, the job of anyone making media today is to capture, direct and respect the attention of the audience so that you're better off after having consumed what we've created.

What's new is not always what's most important

I borrowed this line from one of the founders at Vox, a news site I follow to understand American news.  I'm interested in creating content that helps the communities I'm a part of learn and grow together. Sometimes, this is going to mean choosing old stories over new ones. Other times, it will mean finding creative ways to remind one another about the things that are important, but easy to forget.

Member-supported journalism works better for everyone

Independent, member-supported journalism is not only proving to be a more sustainable business model for creators, it's the model that works best for the communities that journalism is intended to serve.

Most people are familiar with the subscription model of journalism, where you pay a fee to access content behind a paywall. The membership model is different. Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU explains:

“Subscription is — you pay your money and you get a product and it’s a product relationship. And membership is — you join the cause because you believe in the work.”

The goal of The Times Keeper is to help Nova Scotians understand and explore the times we're living through together.

Rather than asking you to pay a fee to access that content, I'll be asking you to pay a fee so everyone who wants to can access that content so that nobody is left out. For The Times Keeper, the membership model will also mean building in regular routines that will allow supporters to shape the editorial agenda of the publication, and making room for those willing to lend their time and expertise to make the publication stronger.

This is going to be an experiment

I wish I could tell you exactly what to expect from The Times Keeper. I'll be figuring this out as I go. At the moment, it's just me working on the project. I'm juggling the tasks of setting up a new business, doing my own admin work, chasing story ideas, and figuring out how much work I can squeeze into a typical day without burning out.

My plan is to begin by producing two podcasts a week - one covering a single topic through a long-form interview or documentary, and another that is more of a week-in-review show. Occasionally, you'll see articles, videos, and graphics that complement the work we're doing on the podcast.

As the project grows and evolves, my approach might change. Maybe two shows a week is too ambitious, maybe it's not ambitious enough. We're about to find out!  

My commitment to you - the audience that shows up - is this:

  • to work hard to understand what you're most interested in and concerned about,
  • to cover the stories where my interest and yours overlaps, and to keep you posted as I tinker around and try to figure out a production model that works on my end and yours.

If you haven't subscribed yet, please do!