Starting a News Co-op
Starting a community news co-op is an exercise in community organizing and requires significant volunteer energy and leadership commitment. Co-ops are businesses without investors, so organizers need to sign up a large number of the founding members whose modest initial payments add up to provide the money needed for the launch. And they’ll need to raise some other money in the community as well.
A committee of community leaders is organizing the pilot co-op on the Banyan model in Haverhill, Massachusetts. To see their organizing plan, see the Haverhill Matters page. And please feel free to contact Banyan’s founder by email.
Co-ops take many forms, but all are governed democratically on a one-member/one-vote basis; typically, co-op members vote to elect directors, who then hire the management. The Banyan model is a consumer cooperative, whose governing members are end users. News co-ops are governed by the votes of readers; widely known types of consumer co-op are food co-ops, which are governed by the votes of shoppers, and credit unions, which are governed by the votes of their depositors. By law they are oriented toward service rather than profit. The International Co-operative Alliance has established these seven Co-op Principles.
One crucial step in forming a co-op is a formal feasibility study on a form expected by lending institutions that make loans to co-ops. Usually these are done by consultants, and the first money raised covers their fees.
If you’re interested in exploring ways to start a news co-op and affiliate with Banyan, or otherwise getting involved, contact us.