New Internationalist is now the world’s biggest media co-operative
When I last wrote, we were walking on air. New Internationalist had just met our £500,000 target for our community share offer, with four days left to run on our Crowdfunder.
Then, something even more astonishing happened. The campaign took on a life of its own. We stretched the target to £650,000 and flew past it, alighting finally on the figure of £704,114 as the offer closed.
By this point, I was grasping for metaphors. We’d ‘climbed the summit’, ‘gone through the roof’ and now perhaps we’ve gone into orbit and are slowly circling the earth. This incredible level of support, which has taken us a clear 40 per cent in excess of our original target of £500,000 has surpassed our greatest expectations.
We are immensely grateful to all our supporters. By this we mean both those who invested personally and those who spread the word on social media and out in the real world, championing the cause of a better media and helping to secure the future of New Internationalist.
It’s early days for analysis but some things we do know. We now have 3,409 co-owners and 75 per cent of people put in £50-£100. This is truly a movement of ordinary people. With important implications for our business, as flagged by new owner Sam Turner, on Twitter.
Our owners are all ages and come from all walks of life. They range from (in his words) a ‘seasoned old timer of 80 who has been supporting the NI since the 1970s’ and young activists who have just come across us. Our youngest is an 11 year old, who was bought shares in trust by their grandmother, and the oldest owner is 98.
There’s romance in our story too. One couple bought each other shares for a 24-year wedding anniversary gift.
And our supporters are of course now part of our organization – it’s a union of sorts. As one new owner wrote: ‘Delighted for you (or should I say “us”!).’ These next few years will be uncharted territory as we embark on this great democratic challenge, blurring the boundaries between readers, owners and journalists. But all that is yet to come.
At last count, these bold media pioneers hail from 42 countries across the globe. Concentrated in our subscriber heartlands of the UK, Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand/Aotearoa, our new owners can also be found everywhere from Alaska to Papua New Guinea. Do take a look at our zoomable map to see where the internationalists live:
The bedrock of our support has come from ordinary people – 75 per cent of investors put in £100 or less. But our cause was also picked up by movers and shakers in the worlds of culture, media and politics, with backing and endorsements from journalists such as John Pilger and Lindsey Hilsum, writer and performer AL Kennedy, and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
So here we are. Audience-owned, fully capitalized and in a position to put ambitious plans into action: we will now be able to embrace new technologies, revamp our magazine and build the book publishing and Ethical Shop arms of our business.
These are exciting times, full of possibility. Our socially conscious journalism will now reach more people than ever before – at a time when it has never been more needed.
For anyone who has closely tracked this campaign, you may be suffering withdrawal symptoms, as I am.
The hours after campaign-close on Thursday evening found me helplessly refreshing the Crowdfunder page – like shaking an unresponsive corpse. (Feeling a bit better today, thanks.)
If you’d like to re-live the Crowdfunder dream you can always read some of the press coverage we’ve picked up along the way.
I feel strangely sad to say goodbye but I have to remind myself that – unlike other crowdfunders that aren’t selling community shares that bestow ownership – this is just the beginning.
To be continued...
As we were. New Internationalist staff mark the end of the Crowdfunder. Now with 3,400 owners, next time they are going to need a bigger pub.
If you missed out on investing go to factsandheart.org to see other ways you can support the work of New Internationalist.