Banyan Ideals and Standards

Three ideals underpin the Banyan model:

We define journalism as the reliable information that people need to make their best life and citizenship decisions.

Our value proposition is that readers will experience the co-op’s journalism as relevant to their lives, respectful of them as people, and worthy of their trust.

We are committed to serving the broad public, not just the affluent readers who newspapers tend to target.

Banyan’s support of its affiliated independent community news co-ops includes setting and monitoring standards that will help them produce journalism that readers value and thus lead to success.

We envision that the standards will be enforced three main ways:

  1) To gain use of the Banyan software platform, news co-ops will sign an agreement with Banyan that commits them to follow certain rules and procedures designed to help them uphold the value proposition.

  2) Whenever journalists at any affiliated site go to post new information, the platform will lead them through procedures designed to ensure that what makes it to the Web meets the standards. These include reminders to ensure that facts are verified for accuracy, and that tone reflects fairness and respect.  Banyan will provide affiliated co-ops with training that includes making best use of these software tools.

  3) The platform will enable readers to flag material they think is irrelevant, disrespectful or untrustworthy; editors will check out the complaints and, if needed, make corrections and work with writers who veered from the value proposition. To monitor sites’ compliance with the agreement, Banyan will get copies of flagged material. It will work with co-ops whose content often veers from the value proposition to help them do better. Co-ops that persist may be put on notice that they are in danger of license revocation.


Tell us how you can help a community news cooperative.



The Banyan Project is built on the thinking and experience of 32 senior journalists, academics, Web developers, sociologists and researchers, business and financial strategists, and advocates for strengthening democracy brought together by Tom Stites. Members of this Board of Advisors are listed below; click on names to see bios.

Stites shaped Banyan's model as a fellow of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

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