So, how's that co-op thing going?

ONE MONTH INTO OUR MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN

words by Chris Horne & photos by Ilenia Pezzaniti

The Devil Strip is in the process of becoming a local news co-op, owned by Akron and operated for the benefit of Akron. Everyone with an Ohio address who pays at least $1 a month before Dec. 31, 2019 will get to vote on important issues, including who gets to serve on our Board of Trustees and what major projects we undertake in 2020. 

So far, things are going very well. 

Our goal was to raise at least $20,000 because that’s the maximum amount our friends at NewsMatch would match.. We blew past that in a week! That means you’ve helped us raise more than $40,000 already, most of which goes directly to more community-focused journalism. 

Which brings me to more good news: In 2020, The Devil Strip will host two full-time journalists to dig into issues around public health and economic development, thanks to Report for America, which is also placing reporters at WKSU and the Beacon Journal. This will dramatically increase the amount of explanatory, investigative and watchdog reporting we’re able to do. RFA provides half of those salaries, and we provide the other half, which will total around $40,000. Thanks to you and NewsMatch, we’re already there.

Before those positions start next summer, The Devil Strip will collaborate with WKSU, the Beacon Journal, WEWS and Your Voice Ohio on a series around Akron’s housing market. Our work will be aided by journalists from the nationally syndicated radio program Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, as one of two regional collaborations chosen for support from their Reveal Local Labs project. 

All of this good news follows a two-year, $200,000 investment into The Devil Strip from the Knight Foundation’s local news initiative. This covers the co-op’s legal fees, funds our efforts to reach more Akronites and guarantees I have a salary for the first time in five years. 

However, it won’t directly fund our journalism, which is why your support is so crucial. 

At present, it costs nearly $17,000 per month to operate The Devil Strip. That’s everything from designing and printing the magazine to paying our full-time and part-time staff, as well as our contributors, all of whom are your neighbors. To grow in 2020, our budget will increase to $25,000 per month. Fortunately, we’ve already found ways to cover that nearly $100,000 shortfall, but we still need your help. We can’t do this without you.

Even if you can only spare $1 a month, it’ll be a tremendous boost because it’s not about the money as much as it is about adding your voice. We believe now is the perfect time to reshape the industry, and we want you to be part of this mission. 

If you’re ready to make a difference, take five minutes to join us at www.devilst.rip/donate


Photos from The Devil Strip’s issue release party at the Mustard Seed Cafe in November 2019.

Chris Horne is the founder and publisher of The Devil Strip. He looks forward to having hobbies. Sometimes, he does karaoke.

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