The Banyan Project: Why Not Co-operative Community Newspapers?

Here's a fascinating idea for sharing communities. And it is being tested out: Banyan Project. From its web site:

Mission

The Banyan Project is devoted to strengthening democracy through a sustainable and replicable new business model for Web journalism that serves and activates the civic energy of less-than-affluent Americans, a huge public now profoundly ill-served by mainstream media.

Vision

As Banyan scales community by community, it will seed community-centered co-op news organizations that are owned by their readers and serve them with original news and service journalism they find relentlessly useful. The nonprofit Banyan Publishing Corp. will serve as a federation that licenses turnkey "franchises" that provide sophisticated software and other services to affiliated news co-ops.

Value Proposition

The Banyan public will find its journalism relevant to their lives, respectful of them as people, and worthy of their trust.

Tom Stites, an experienced journalist and entrepreneur, is its founder and president. He seems to have his feet firmly on the earth while thinking large-scale. He discusses the project in a series of three short, very readable essays. You can find the third one here with links to the first two. I suggest that folks in the movement start with the third.

The web site lays out some well-thought out plans here. There is a photo of a great Florida banyan tree here that will give you a feel for his vision.

I posted this originally on my GEO blog.

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