You might have heard different terms over the last years for what we call community journalism. E.g. engaged journalism or people powered journalism. At the heart of this is a very simple idea: Journalism that responds to community needs and is created with community participation.
It starts with listening and building relationships first. Newsrooms create stories in collaboration with their communities and they provide a lot of space for exchange and listening to community needs. And yes, they also ask the community to contribute financially.
They see audiences as active contributors, informants, collaborators, members, supporters, volunteers and also team members and not as customers.
We think membership should be part of a community newsroom’s business model.
Membership means that, even if you offer your content for free, people pay you a monthly contribution in order to support your work. Why? Because they believe in the cause, they can see the impact they have through you right at their doorstep, because you give them something to identify with and belong to.
This is different from a subscription, where you pay for access to the content in the first place. And it is different to a donation, because people commit to supporting you with a monthly payment.
In a resilient newsroom membership fees are always just part of the revenue mix. But they are the foundation to build a lasting sustainable business model. Your paying members are your most important stakeholders, critics, contributors of ideas and ambassadors along the way.
Especially when it comes to local communities we see lots of actors that are important for keeping people informed, engaged and connected to what’s happening around them: Community groups, local clubs, libraries, and more.
We see lots of people taking things into their own hands when it comes to transforming the places where they live.
That’s why we believe it is not just professional journalists who can build community newsrooms. It’s everyone who has the passion to explore local topics, create connections between people and moderate their exchange. It’s community organisers everywhere who want to make a difference.
We are looking for people like you who want to start a new community newsroom. Building the software is part of a bigger educational project. As a community we share questions and solutions to the problems we run into when building our organisations and projects.
So please get in touch with the beabee project lead Julia Hildebrand to join us.
The first step of becoming a beta user of beabee is to contact us. You can write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or directly book a meeting with our product team for an initial talk. We then can start with our manual onboarding process, that we will guide you through. One important thing to note: We’ll need to sign a service agreement and a data processing agreement.
beabee ist a joint project by CORRECTIV, The Bristol Cable, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Vereniging Veronica. We are looking for more partners and team members, so please just get in touch if you are interested in getting involved. Meet the Team here.