Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

What if newsroom employees had a say in how their newsroom operates?

Panel will discuss collaborative ownership and decision-making at Collaborative Journalism Summit

Apr 24 · 3 min read

The notion that collaboration is a net positive for everyone involved is one of our core principles at the Center for Cooperative Media. As such, we’ve espoused, researched, and facilitated collaborative journalism and cooperative media projects at almost every turn over the last half-decade or so. But there’s still one area we haven’t really explored in too much detail: collaborative ownership.

What would a newsroom look like if the people who worked in it — the reporters, editors, designers, etc. — were the ones calling the shots when it comes to how the newsroom operates? How might that change the calculus behind big decisions like massive layoffs and restructuring, large-scale mergers and acquisitions, or even simple personnel changes?

What are the chances that the employees of DNAInfo and The Gothamist would have voted to abruptly shutter both newsrooms, delete their articles from their respective websites, and send 115 of their coworkers to the unemployment line? Would they also have chosen to announce that decision in a surprise rush-hour blog post at the end of the day?

These are big questions with big implications, but it’s hardly radical to suggest that newsrooms — and the journalism industry writ large — might operate a little differently if the power to make these kinds of sweeping decisions about the future of a company and the employees who run it was shared with the employees in question.

And while we can’t say for sure what would have happened in the examples cited above, I’m excited to have the opportunity to explore these kinds of questions about the impact of cooperative decision-making and collaborative governance with a panel of very smart and very experienced people at the 2019 Collaborative Journalism Summit in Philly on May 17.

I’ll facilitate a discussion between a panel of journalism professionals and practitioners with experience both running and researching media cooperatives. We’ll talk about what works — and what doesn’t — when it comes to cooperatively-owned and -operated media organizations.

Here’s the panel lineup we have so far:

  • Jo Ellen Kaiser is a consultant at JGKSF Consulting who recently published a sweeping report on the challenges and opportunities of media cooperatives.
  • Dru Oja Jay is the co-founder of the Media Co-Op, a coast-to-coast network of local media cooperatives dedicated to providing grassroots, democratic coverage of their communities and of Canada.
  • Tom Stites is the founder and president of the Banyan Project, where he’s attempting to build a reader-owned cooperative business model.
  • Maddie Taterka is a founding worker-owner and the administrative coordinator for Bonfire Media Collective, a cooperatively-owned video production company based in Philadelphia.

The panel will be recorded, but I’d prefer to have you there at the Summit to ask questions and continue this conversation in person. Click here to register.


Joe Amditis is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Contact him at amditisj@montclair.edu or on Twitter at @jsamditis.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. The Center is supported with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jerseyand the Abrams Foundation. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair State University

Joe Amditis

Written by

Joe is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University and the host of the WTF Just Happened Today? podcast.

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair State University