Passed: Forming a Media Co-operative


  • In favour
  • Against
  • Abstain
  • Block

0 voters

Co-operation Birmingham works, using funds from our new membership scheme, to set up a media co-operative.

Goals of the co-operative

  • Media for Birmingham owned and produced democratically

  • A calendar and hub for community and activist groups in the city

  • A focus on indepedent culture and profiling things marginalised by commercialised news and media

  • Critical investigative journalism

A suggested structure

  • Initially a collective with a paid coordinator who invoices as a freelancer via open collective.

  • An editorial collective subgroup of Co-operation Birmingham

  • Large decisions and reports presented to Co-operation Birmingham meetings, and follow the decision making procedure for the overall network.

  • When the project grows large enough to have multiple workers a worker co-opreative is formed which is contracted to run the project and deal with the employment.

  • End product is a two tier co-op, Co-operation Birmingham - a wide decision making membership and a media workers co-operative doing the heavy lifting funded via the membership.

Some background to this proposal.

Media co-operatives and community driven journalism has been growing over the past decade, however at the same time mainstream journalism has completely collapsed with the move to social media leading to bots writing articles and stuff being recycled for just for clicks.

A successful example of the model is The Bristol Cable , the media fund is a good source of information about other similar projects

In Birmingham in the past there has been an attempt at setting up a co-operative newspaper, Slaney Street back in the early 2010’s. This project had 6 print editions over the period of around a year. The project was ultimately unsuccessful for a number of reasons which might be instructive were we to embark on setting up a new media co-operative. It was a free paper, with an associated newspaper funded by around 30 members. Print runs cost around 1k each time and 10,000 newspapers each time.

  • It was driven by print releases. The editorial collective got lured in by minute increase in cost between printing 1,000 or printing 10,000. This meant we had more papers but ultimately made them so much more difficult to distibute, and physically drained the core organisers. The pandemic makes a print driven publication un-viable. Instead we could do things like one off special issues for members on particular subjects or yearly poster prints by independent artists and keep the rest of the content online. It’s lovely to have something to look at and feel but not the right time to have that as the backbone of the publication.

  • The subscription payments were locked into paypal and when the person responsible left the city and was unresponsive it meant the project was unable to function. Using Open Collective would solve this problem.

  • It was entirely volunteer run. This meant that print editions required lots of last minute efforts and for this reason, although many of the articles were fantastic it wasn’t possible to do in depth investigative work of the sort paid journalists are able to conduct. Having a network co-ordinator would resolve this initially and later a goal should be paying contributors.

  • It was ‘too leftwing’ something you won’t often hear me say… The issue was that it was trying to serve a market which was relatively small with far too much firepower (i.e a pallet load of papers!). In Birmingham there isn’t just a niche that needs filling for a particular type of left wing news and commentary there is just no real independent organ on a city wide basis except the Mail and the Post. There is a need for coverage of culture, events, music and all sorts alongside deeper investigative work and journalism, including left wing things but not limited to. The proposed publication should have a broad remit of boosting community work, finding stories which would go unreported and promoting the cities culture.


This proposal has passed unanimously, however it should be noted that there were a few less votes for this than some of the other proposals (but perhaps no abstenstions), so I’m not sure how to interpret that. I have updated the title and the next steps need to be talked about in a meeting.