New Internationalist, a 44-year-old magazine with a global perspective and a focus on social and environmental justice, launches the most ambitious community share offer by a media organisation to date
New Internationalist magazine has launched a community share offer, inviting its readers to support ‘journalism with facts and heart’ by buying a stake in a new co-operative business to take the magazine forward.
With a week to go, a crowdfunding campaign to promote the share offer has reached 85% of its £500,000 target with £428,180 pledged for investment by 2,000 people.
Founded in 1973, the magazine describes itself as specialising in investigative reporting on human rights, social and environmental justice, and “inequality and the reasons behind it”.
At a time when “fake news and media monopolies are spreading misinformation”, say New Internationalist editors, they want to scale up the publication and strengthen “media that brings people together”.
“With the backdrop of alternative facts, Trump and nationalism, it’s really powerful that there are people taking action to strike against that,” Helen Wallis, engagement manager at New Internationalist, told Positive News.
“We have always written about other people coming together to change things, now it’s our turn,” said New Internationalist co-editor Hazel Healy.
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The New Internationalist team said that with print related revenues having declined in recent years in line with the difficulties experienced by many others in the industry, they have “a plan for how to turn things around”. The share capital will be used to bolster their business model and grow their audience. Key investment areas include developing the New Internationalist magazine and website, as well as scaling up its book publishing arm, online retail business the Ethical Shop, and events programme.
A not-for-profit publisher based in Oxford, New Internationalist is currently owned by its 18 employees. Upon completion of its campaign, it is set to become a multi-stakeholder co-operative society, meaning thousands of readers worldwide will share ownership with the staff team. All readers who invest will have an equal vote in the co-operative, irrelevant of their investment amount. A ‘common council’ will act as a forum for reader-investors to have a say on the magazine’s direction.
With the backdrop of alternative facts, Trump and nationalism, it’s really powerful that there are people taking action to strike against that
The 35-day campaign launched on 1 March and closes on 6 April. As an all-or-nothing campaign, funds will only be drawn from investors if the minimum target of £500,000 is reached.
The campaign is believed to be the largest community share offer issued by a media organisation to date. In 2015, Positive News became the first media organisation to issue a community share offer globally through crowdfunding. Other media organisations that have run community share offers include Ethical Consumer magazine and the Community Channel.
New Internationalist hopes its campaign will encourage other independent media to look to community ownership as a foundation for the future.
“We hope that, if successful, we can inspire other media organisations to do the same,” said Wallis. “We were so inspired by Positive News’ #OwnTheMedia campaign, and in this digital age, it’s important that we let media organisations know that there is a community of support. Our campaign is just one of the many ways to support independent journalism that offers real hope.”
Positive News editor-in-chief Sean Dagan Wood said: “With a loss of confidence and confusion around which media to trust, this move from New Internationalist – as a strongly principled magazine with a 44-year legacy – is an exciting and timely development. Their campaign shows the extent to which people want to support media that is accountable to those it is here to serve.
“Time will tell how effective the new wave of crowdfunded, community-owned media such as New Internationalist and Positive News will be, but the model could be a real win-win for society and for media organisations.”
Backers of New Internationalist’s campaign include musician Jarvis Cocker and actor Emma Thompson.
One investor, Joan, said: “New Internationalist gives me a welcome and refreshing alternative view on current affairs which is missing from so much of the mass media.”
Find out more about New Internationalist’s community share offer campaign by visiting www.factsandheart.org
Featured image: New Internationalist co-editors, Jo Lateu and Vanessa Baird
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