Making good media, and owning it too

New co-owners at the community share launch

Hazel Healy, co-editor of the New Internationalist, reports on how you can own your own media.

With fake news and nationalism on the rise, there’s never been a greater need for journalism you can trust. But the information age is making it harder than ever for honest, independent media to survive.

In response, New Internationalist magazine is adopting a new ownership model, with readers and supporters at its heart. We have launched an ambitious community share offer, which opens up ownership of our media organisation to thousands of ordinary people.

This bold move goes against the tide of accelerating media concentration and centralized ownership worldwide – no more so than in Britain, where Rupert Murdoch bid for full control of Sky just this week.

So far, it’s going well. Ten days after going live on Crowdfunder on 1st March, the Buy into a Better Story campaign has attracted over £215,000 investment and some 944 new owners. That’s 43% of the way to our all-or-nothing target of £500,000 – deadline 6th April.

It felt like we had to do something big. With fear and mistrust growing, there’s an appetite for alternative, socially-conscious journalism like ours. For the past 44 years, New Internationalist has published stories that deliver the facts, make sense of the complex, beautiful world we live in and offer bright, bold ideas for ways to create a more equal world. We need to step up, reach more people and set ourselves on a firm financial footing.

Community share offers are a unique way for businesses with a social purpose to raise equity without compromising their mission. Unlike conventional shares, this is ‘withdrawable share capital’ that cannot be sold on for a profit. If things go to plan, investors may even get interest on their investment, but the focus is more about investing in the kind of world you’d like to live in.

In return for investing, our new co-owners become custodians of our Charter, meaning that the magazine can’t deviate from its founding principles without the consent of its co-owners, each of whom gets one vote, not matter how much they invest. So, for our new co-owners, the return is a thriving New Internationalist publishing articles with a unique international perspective, eye-opening long-form investigations and stunning videos. This model of community ownership couldn’t be more different than the ‘ownership by the few’ practiced by most of the media.

In many ways this is a natural progression for New Internationalist. A worker’s co-op since the 1980s, our journalism has always been a reflection of who are and how we are run.

Join us, as we embark on our great experiment to democratise the media! You can find out more about the New internationalist community share offer on the Crowdfunder page www.factsandheart.org. Join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #FactsAndHeart.