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 founding members; their 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.

And the organizing must never stop — the more energy coursing though the Banyan model the more members (and thus revenue) it will attract, ands the more the members are stirred to engagement, the more energy will be generated.  This is a virtuous circle, and keeping it energized is crucial management duty that’s not common in the news business,.

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 reader/members; widely known types of consumer co-ops 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 investment return. The International Co-operative Alliance has established these seven Co-op Principles.

If you’re interested in exploring ways to start a news co-op and affiliate with Banyan, or otherwise getting involved, contact us.

And if you’d like to explore the template for launching a news co-op, explore this page.

 

 

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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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