Media consultant Simon Galperin wants to create a system whereby local communities could use tax revenue to create a news and information entity called a Community Information Cooperative. The idea is that a fee levied on residents—similar to fees for fire services, water, sanitation, etc.—would allow a community to essentially self-fund their own local reporters. Galperin has set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2,000 to create a non-profit entity that would put the idea into action. He recently wrote at CJR about how this might work in his hometown:
My hometown of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, has a population of 32,000 people. An annual $40 contribution per household could deliver a $500,000 operating budget to a newsroom devoted to understanding and serving the local news and information needs of its community. That budget could support print or online newspapers, or livestreaming town council meetings. A special service district for local journalism could convene community forums or media literacy classes, launch a text message and email alert system, or pay for chatbots that answer locally relevant questions, like “Is alternate side parking in effect?”
News co-ops that might help to fill the growing gap in local news coverage is an intriguing idea, but forcing people to chip in via their taxes would be a tough sell—supporting the fire department so your house doesn’t burn down is a bit different than supporting a local news outlet. And if it wasn’t mandatory, would enough people want to commit their tax revenues to such a venture?