Credit: Image courtesy of New Internationalist

On 1 March, New Internationalist launched an ambitious crowdfunding campaign, aiming to raise £500,000 by inviting readers to "buy into a better story" and become co-owners of the organisation.

They not only managed to reach their goal before the deadline on 6 April, but stretched the target to £700,000 – as of now, 3,409 people have bought shares in the New Internationalist, amounting to £704,114.

"The timing couldn't be better for a bold plan or experiment like this," Chris Spannos, digital editor of the New Internationalist, told when the campaign launched.

"In this time of fake news, of filter bubbles and Brexit and Donald Trump, we want to make ourselves more accountable, more transparent and we want to give our readers an opportunity to actually own us and help guide the direction of our organisation."

As an independent, non-profit publishing co-operative based in Oxford, New Internationalist covers issues of human rights, politics, social and environmental justice, through its magazine in print and online, as well as by publishing books. The organisation also runs an ethical online shop, working with producers around the world to sell ethical goods, such as coffee, chocolate and clothes.

More than 45,000 people subscribe to the print magazine, which costs £45.85 a year for 10 issues, and the title also has a "small number" of digital subscribers. With the community share offer, New Internationalist is planning to reinvent its subscription model with different types of memberships and introduce more monetisation options.

The magazine will also redesign its print edition and expand its digital coverage, by diversifying the digital products and types of content it offers, for example experimenting more with video, podcasts and immersive storytelling.

"If you hear the voices of the people in other parts of the world, you can't turn away from their stories too easily.

"So we want to provide a global spectrum of ideas and a more compelling and complete view of the world, and we want our readers to help guide us in that mission.

"Organisations like The Bristol Cable, The Ferret, New Internationalist... all of them demonstrate there's a need for community-owned media."

Readers were able to invest in the New Internationalist between £50 and £10,000 each to purchase community shares. Regardless of how many shares they've bought, each co-owner will have an equal right to vote on big decisions made in the organisation, for example about the advertising policy or the editorial content.

For a new change to be implemented or for a policy to change, 75 per cent of paying members need to agree, as well as 75 per cent of investor members, who will also have the opportunity to join a council to help "steer editorial decision making about the content and get more involved in how the business runs".

Hazel Healy, co-editor of the New Internationalist, said the next step now is to figure out the "mechanics of governance" and how a co-operative with more than 2,500 members in 30 countries across the world will work.

"People seem more concerned about the 'what' than the 'how': independence, speaking truth to power, investigative and responsible journalism, accuracy," she told in an email.

"Readers are particularly keen that New Internationalist be there to inform future generations and some owners describe their investment as their legacy to their children."

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).