The N.C. Newsroom Cooperative will foster journalistic innovation out of RTP | Triangulator | Indy Week
Pin It

The N.C. Newsroom Cooperative will foster journalistic innovation out of RTP 

On Sunday afternoon, more than 150 people, including notables from publishing, business and foundations, gathered in Raleigh's Five Points neighborhood to meet Washington Post editor Martin Baron. Following a screening at the Rialto of the new film Spotlight, which dramatizes Baron's role in uncovering a decades-long cover-up of clerical sex abuse in Boston, the crowd moved next door to Proof for food, drink and discussion.

It looked like a celebration of establishment media, but the occasion was to support underdog journalism: an innovative venture called the N.C. Newsroom Cooperative, an RTP-based incubator that will open in the spring.

The cooperative will be housed at The Frontier, a largely free co-working space. Close to 7,000 square feet will be upfitted with enough room for about 100 journalists. Thanks to what amounts to a rent subsidy from the Research Triangle Foundation, which operates RTP, the journalists would pay a modest amount per month—an exact figure hasn't been announced—for the privilege, as well as amenities like Wi-Fi and podcasting facilities. The co-op will cater primarily to local freelancers, though at least one news organization, N.C. Health News, plans to make the space its brick-and-mortar base.

The incubator also envisions fostering things like hackathons, helping writers monetize their work in new ways and acting as a broker connecting writers with content that needs to be produced.

The co-op is the brainchild of three experienced, well-connected people: Hugh Stevens, a First Amendment lawyer and counsel for the N.C. Press Foundation; Mary E. Miller, an entrepreneur and former News & Observer reporter who is married to Bob Geolas, president and CEO of Research Triangle Foundation; and Seth Effron, an early pioneer of online news who did a stint as deputy curator and special projects director at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard.

Effron admits that, while the idea of a member-owned news co-op isn't new—the Associated Press is a cooperative, after all—the business model for this enterprise is still a work in progress. "We haven't found a model yet," he says. "But we want to focus on enabling other people to create revenue and help journalists make money."

Rose Hoban of N.C. Health News is another early organizer. While Hoban has successfully carved out a nonprofit niche for NCHN, she recalls telling Miller, "We need to do something more disruptive." One model Hoban has in mind is The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit online news site founded in 2009.

A frequently mentioned benefit of the co-op is its potential to re-create the newsroom atmosphere, even as actual newsrooms are being thinned out and sold for scrap.

"There's something about the collaborative spirit making things better," says Kirk Ross, a former INDY managing editor who writes for two nonprofit news outlets.

For Ross, the emergence of the cooperative is another sign that, after two decades of relentless disruption and retrenchment, the decline of journalism has slowed enough to allow a glimmer of optimism to return.

"The brave new world used to be so depressing," Ross says. "Now there's more money and less clinging to old ways."

Reach the INDY's Triangulator team at triangulator@indyweek.com.


  • The new group plans to connect journalists with content

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Triangulator



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

"Powell has another idea. "I really wish Wake would experiment with taking officers out of the school and evaluate the …

by Educate1` on After an Incident at Rolesville High, Activists Wonder if Schools Need Cops (Triangulator)

Just to clarify, basically the only people currently eligible for Medicaid in North Carolina are pregnant women, families with minor …

by Smilla on Good News: Roy Cooper Wants to Expand Medicaid. Bad News: It Might Be Illegal. (Triangulator)

Yolanda Stith could not be less qualified for this position. What a blatant political giveaway.

by J.P. McPickleshitter on On His Way Out, Pat McCrory Places Close Advisers on Key State Boards (Triangulator)

FYI, you have the pictures of Lee Roberts and Andrew Heath switched.

by Bob Coats on On His Way Out, Pat McCrory Places Close Advisers on Key State Boards (Triangulator)

Thanks, Lewis. We've made a correction to the info graphic.

by Susan Harper, INDY Publisher on On His Way Out, Pat McCrory Places Close Advisers on Key State Boards (Triangulator)

Comments

"Powell has another idea. "I really wish Wake would experiment with taking officers out of the school and evaluate the …

by Educate1` on After an Incident at Rolesville High, Activists Wonder if Schools Need Cops (Triangulator)

Just to clarify, basically the only people currently eligible for Medicaid in North Carolina are pregnant women, families with minor …

by Smilla on Good News: Roy Cooper Wants to Expand Medicaid. Bad News: It Might Be Illegal. (Triangulator)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation