Sat 18 Jan 2020 6:07PM

Launching A New, Co-op Owned Online Publication "Mutual Interests"

LS Leo Sammallahti Public Seen by 71

Mutual Interests - A New Online Publication

The reception to a recently launched Wikipedia Coop Fund positively surprised me - after publishing only one article about it and sharing it half a dozen places, we reached 10 regular donors.

I've got to know a brilliant young writer @Iwan Doherty whose articles (1,2) about coops have gained impressive reach in the social media. So an idea to start a new, coop owned online publication popped to my mind.

Response to a short tweet about this idea was a positive surprise - messages flew in from the former BBC newsnight editor Paul Mason, National Research and Policy Officer at GMB Neil Foster, a person representing a group of Japanese trade unionists who are themselves in a process of starting a co-op owned publication, a former Mozilla employee, etc.

So here's some basic ideas behind the publication:

Balanced coverage of co-ops, unions and the state

  • Success stories and future ideas on how co-ops and unions, not just statecraft can be utilised as tools.

  • Energising elections in existing economic democracy, from trade- and credit unions to local councils and large cooperatives.

  • When covering state, focusing especially in local councils in swing constituencies.

  • Let's change the thinking from "how can the state fix this problem" to "how can unions/coops/state fix this problem".

Consensus, not controversy seeking.

  • Shifting from the nationalisation vs privatisation paradigm into mutualisation consensus.

  • Bringing forward other economic ideas that appeal also to both left and non-left leaning people:

    • Anti-trust

    • Free and open source software

    • Land value tax

    • Employee ownership 

Policy advocacy, no personal attacks.

  • Best place to read about manifestos of ongoing elections in different countries.

  • Best place for coverage of co-op and union elections.

  • Proposing ideas for membership motions to be voted on in co-ops and unions, not just policies in party elections, such as having a membership motion for Nationwide and Co-op to invest 1% of their pre-tax profits to help new co-op startups.

Cooperative, not a corporation.

  • Governance (Loomio)

    • 50% of the board is elected by writers who have published at least 4 articles/ year.

    • 50% of the board is elected by subscribers who pay 3£/month or 30£/year. Members of unions or co-ops pay 2£/month or 20£/year.

  • Finance (Open Collective)

    • 50% of the monthly revenue is distributed equally to all writers who have published an article that month.

    • 50% of the money is distributed through membership vote to writers who have published in the last month.

Participatory, not passive

  • Readers take part in polls

    • Best policies from party manifestos of different parties in different countries

    • Best Resonate song of the month/year

  • Readers request questions and guests for interviews

  • Offers practical advice for action:

    • Co-ops and unions to join

    • Informs about upcoming union elections, coop AGMs, etc.

    • Membership petitions in to sign for those who are already members

    • Informing about co-op crowdfunding and open source projects Webinars and online courses

24 Month Plan

  • First Two Month Goal

    • Launch on week 2 of February:

    • Publish an article describing the Mutual Interests Coop

    • Interview with Sandeep Vaheesan on anti-trust

    • Interview with Cardiff taxi worker co-op and union collaboration

    • Publish one new article by Iwan Doherty

    • Publish one new article by me

    • Add around 15 old articles by Iwan & me about unions, co-ops and Labour party

    • Interview with Nathan Schneider

    • Publish one article by a guest author

    • Interview with cleaners co-operative in Belfast

  • 6 Month Goals

    • Reach production of 11 articles a month

    • Interview with co-op, union and party person of the month

    • An article from Iwan and Leo once a month

    • Two articles from other regular writers

    • Resonate song of the month - a regular article retweeted by Resonate

    • Coop Fact Of The Week vote

  • 12 Month Goals

    • Reach production of 5 articles a week

    • Regular new reader polls

    • Election Watch - readers vote on policies on party manifestos of ongoing elections across the world

    • Expansion to broader interests than politics and society

      • Sports, fan-owned sports teams news

      • Culture

        • Stocksy photo- and Resonate music coop news.

      • Tech

        • Open source co-op project of the month

      • Personal finance tips and business news.

        • Informing about opportunities for mutual self-help, such as job opportunities or goods and services offered by co-operatives.

      • Business news from the co-op sector

  • 24 Month Goals

    • Reach a production of 2 articles a day

    • Monthly piece by an elected union, co-op and co-op party representative.

    • Have a monthly post on:

      • Anti-trust

      • Georgism

      • Employee ownership

      • Open source software

    • Regular monthly readers polls:

      • Policy of the month

      • Randomised trial of the month

      • Platform co-operative of the month

      • Resonate song of the month

      • Co-op crowdfunding campaign of the month

      • Co-op fact of the month

      • Co-op Open Source Project of the month

      • Trade union of the month

    • Propose an annual motion voted on by the members of Nationwide

    • Have a Mutual Interests member as the reader elected member of the board of directors of Co-operative News

If you are interested in writing to the publication, or know someone who could be, let me know. Also, if you know organisations that might be interested in getting involved, let me know.

Any other thoughts or ideas also more than welcome.


Oli SB Thu 23 Jan 2020 4:23PM

I like this idea - it reminds me of the https://indymedia.org/ model - which I see is now being rebuilt


Leo Sammallahti Thu 23 Jan 2020 4:12PM

Asked SEWA Twitter account whether some of their people would be interested in contributing. Got this response "Absolutely! We have been contributing to NCUI’s The Cooperator and would love to contribute further to the co-op movement!".