A campaign on CrowdFunder.co.uk looks set to raise £200,000 in the coming week for a website and online website dedicated to independent “positive” journalism. The company, Positive News, is offering all shareholders a say in how the company is run.
If the company is successful in its crowdfunding campaign (currently at £175,000) it will become the first crowdfunded news co-operative in the world.
The site is currently run as a not for profit by editor Sean Dagan Wood. The site is funded by donations and subscriptions to the print edition – which currently has a quarterly run of 30,000 copies. With the additional funding the co-operative hopes to re-launch the website and print edition of the magazine. They also hope to invest in new staff and writers to help bolster the site’s success.
As part of the company’s drive to promote grassroots journalism they also plan to offer training and news services to other organisations to help them report worthwhile news.
Positive News is offering shares at £1 each with a minimum investment of £50. They have already had investments from over a thousand people. What is interesting is that the company will be set up co-operatively. The shareholders entitlements will not give them a say in the day to day running of the company. Rather shareholders will be able to vote for the board of directors and control over the company charter – a set of ethical values and rules designed to enshrine and maintain the company ethos; that positive news is independent and ethical.
This democratisation of news is a great concept to see come out of the fundraising landscape. The devolution of power from a single “owner” to a collective shared ownership is a fantastic way to get people actively involved in the news that affects them most closely.
In terms of a campaign this reinforces the idea that we can cooperatively and efficiently make changes in the world using crowdfunding. Crowdfunding campaigns like this show us how we can leverage mass media and crowdfunding communities to achieve more than we can through traditional fundraising activities.
In terms of a campaign the key reason for the campaign’s success is that it is directly involving its audience and potential audience in the company and its processes. It is making an ethical and intellectual connection with its audience AND allowing them to ensure that Positive News remains independent and grassroots focused.
As a business proposition this isn’t akin to most of the campaigns we analyse – but it reinforces the central way crowdfunding is better than traditional investment vehicles. We can create and engage a lifelong audience who are actively engaged in our business.