The Devil Strip is the nation’s first community-owned local news co-op!

What does this mean? It means The Devil Strip is locally owned in the truest sense: You can become a co-owner to keep Akron’s stories in the hands of Akronites! 

Why are we doing this? Because we believe community news is best equipped to serve readers when it’s owned by the community. 

How does this work? For as little as $1 per month, you can become a member of The Devil Strip. This means you get to vote on issues pertaining to the magazine, join committees or even run for a position on our board of directors. Once you’ve invested $330, you become a co-owner. This means your share is fully vested, and you’re a co-owner (shareholder) for life.

What’s the difference between a member and a co-owner? Anyone who is actively paying as little as $1 per month is a member of The Devil Strip and can vote on important issues and join committees, as mentioned above. Co-owners are exclusively those who have invested at least $330. Simply stated, membership is the road to becoming a co-owner of the magazine.

Here are some more frequently asked questions about our co-op!

If you have additional questions, feel free to email our director of membership, Jessica Goldbourn, at jessica@thedevilstrip.com.

To read our bylaws, click here.

Co-op Structure and Governance

What is a co-op? Instead of being owned by an individual, our local news co-op is a not-for-profit company collectively owned by our readers and workers. Think of a co-op as a hybrid of a non-profit, which is organized to produce social good, and a for-profit, which is organized to create wealth for its owners. Our co-op is built to create social capital for our whole community.

Who can become a co-owner? Anyone who is 18 or older and lives in the state of Ohio is eligible to become a co-owner. If you live out of state but still want to support our work, we welcome you to become a paying member or make a donation to us, but unfortunately, we cannot at this time sell shares across state lines.

How much does a share (co-ownership) cost? A fully vested lifetime share costs $330 total, but we want our magazine to be owned by the widest possible variety of Akronites. This is why anyone can become a member for either $1, $12, or $28 per month on their way to co-ownership. For instance, if you join us at $28 per month, after 12 months, you will have paid $330 and become a co-owner with a lifetime share.

What are my member benefits? Aside from getting to vote on important issues, join committees and serve on our board, you get access to fun things such as members-only events, the digital edition of the magazine a day ahead of its public release date, emailed member kits with exclusive resources for our members and more.

Do I get member benefits for life if I’m a vested co-owner? When you’re a vested co-owner, you can vote or join a committee or our board without ever paying us another dime. However, you have to be actively paying your membership dues to get the additional perks mentioned above, even if you’re already a co-owner.

Can I buy multiple shares? No. Regardless of how much you spend with us, we adhere to the “one person, one share, one vote” principle. This keeps our structure as democratic and accessible as possible.

What kinds of decisions will our co-owners get to make? Every year, our co-owners will be invited to attend our annual shareholders meeting, where they get to vote on a new slate of board members. As the co-op matures, three are other questions that will come before our co-owners for a vote, such as whether we want to amend our bylaws or increase the number of seats on our board. Our co-owners will always have the final say in these matters. 

What does our Board of Directors do? The board’s main focus is to maintain financial oversight of The Devil Strip and ensure that our business practices are smart and sustainable for long-term growth. They meet monthly.

What happens to my share if I die? If you are a lifetime vested co-owner of The Devil Strip, your share can go to certain family members or a trust, as stipulated in our bylaws.

How the Co-op Affects our Journalism

What say do co-owners have in editorial decisions? To keep our journalism independent and free of undue influence, all editorial decisions are made by The Devil Strip’s editor-in-chief. However, we always welcome ideas from our members and co-owners. For instance, at our very first co-op shareholders meeting, our members were asked what topics they would like to see more of in the magazine, and they voted on public health and economic development. This led to us hiring two full-time reporters through Report for America to cover these beats. Our members have also expressed interest in housing issues, which is what led to our Home in Akron collaboration with other news organizations.

Do co-owners get special access to editors or reporters? Our editorial staff’s email addresses are public, and all readers are welcome to ask questions, give feedback and share ideas. We will continue to respond to all those inquiries equally, regardless of whether the sender is a co-owner or not. That being said, we look forward to hosting members-only events and forums where members will have the opportunity to speak directly with our editorial team. Furthermore, as mentioned above, we solicit our members for feedback on our coverage that we don’t ask our general readership.

Will I get a story written about me or my cause? No, not simply because you are a co-owner. A wide variety of people send story ideas to The Devil Strip, and we treat ideas from our co-owners the same way: If it’s interesting, we’ll do our best to cover it, but you will not receive special attention because you’re a co-owner. The caveat to this is that we love publishing member spotlights on our new members. If you’re interested in being featured, email allyson@thedevilstrip.com for more information.

Membership Tiers for Donors

What’s the difference between a member and a co-owner? As stated at the top of this page, anyone who is actively paying as little as $1 per month to support The Devil Strip’s work is a member and can vote on important issues, join committees and run for a position on our board. Members are not restricted to living in the state of Ohio (although to be on our board, specifically, they need to live in Ohio); anyone in the world can become a member. Co-owners must be at least 18 years old, living in the state of Ohio, and have paid at least $330, whether they are still actively paying or not. Simply stated, membership is the road to becoming a co-owner of the magazine.

How much does it cost to become a member? Anyone can become a member of The Devil Strip for either $1, $12 or $28 per month. Members are also welcome to pay their dues annually instead of monthly. Each tier of membership has its own perks, and the perks increase with each level.

Do I have to start over if my membership lapses and I rejoin? No, we keep track of the amount you’ve paid, so if you rejoin us after lapsing, you’ll be adding to the total you’ve already invested.

Additional questions? Email Membership Director Jessica Goldbourn at jessica@thedevilstrip.com