Co-op organizing offers a critical opportunity for news producers, publishers and audiences to strengthen the professional independent press in neglected communities.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, a core group of independent news publishers, media consultants and co-op organizers are collaborating to established a new type of shared-services co-op.
Success in the Bay Area can provide a model for other regions around the United States and North America — and can also open the door for expanded organizing that engages diverse audiences ready to develop a deeper and more democratic stake in local news media.
Bay Area issues and prospects
In the birthplace of digital media, locally focused, ad-driven news organizations have taken an economic beating.
In response, a core group of neighborhood newspapers and small- to mid-sized news outlets is working to form a shared-services cooperative that will bring economic stability by cutting costs and testing new revenue.
The former JOA (Joint Operating Agreement) between the old San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle represents an example of how newspapers can share resources around critical functions such as printing and distribution.
Run democratically by news outlets for news outlets, the new Bay Area Media Cooperative proposes to offer the following services in its first year:
• Deep discounts on printing contracts
• Discounted bookkeeping services
• Discounted website hosting
• Discounted WordPress services
In its second year, the Bay Area Media Cooperative proposes to offer additional services, including:
• A revolving loan fund
• Email newsletter services
• Experiments around revenue generation
The Bay Area Media Cooperative is being developed collaboratively with local news outlets, free-press advocates and co-op consultants. These include El Tecolote, the National Federation of Worker Co-ops, JGKSF Consulting, the Watershed Media Project, and others.
Connect with the Bay Area Media Co-op