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The Bristol Cable

About The Cable

Our Story

The Cable is not your average newspaper.

In 2014, the UK’s journalism industry was at rock bottom. 2012’s Leveson Inquiry report revealed systemic, decades-long criminality by the tabloid press in order to get ever-more sensational ‘scoops’ to sell papers. 

Trust in the corporate-owned press was at an all time low, at a time when papers really needed it – their business model was in freefall, as internet firms were scooping up the ad revenue. Local investigative journalism was the first to take the hit, and had been extinct for some time.

A small group of volunteers in Bristol decided to do something about the failures of corporate-owned local media – they organised, crowdfunded, and built a reader owned new-media outlet: The Bristol Cable.

As a result, Bristol now has its own investigative newspaper, 100% owned by thousands of local people, free to access for all in digital and print.

For almost a decade, our membership model has allowed us to focus on long-term, groundbreaking investigations rather than breaking news that relies on clicks for revenue. Together, we hold power to account through groundbreaking investigations, campaign for change, and amplify marginalised voices.

We are rooted in local communities, but we’re also a leader in the global movement to reinvent the media industry as a sustainable, democratic public service.

We can’t do it without you.

How does it work?

Free to Access

We publish several articles a week at, and a quarterly print newspaper. All our journalism is free to access. Newspapers can be found at venues all across the city – or through your letterbox if you pay more than £5 a month.


We are a small, dedicated not-for-profit team, currently operating on a shoestring budget, funded by membership contributions (35%), grants (60%), and ethical non-corporate advertising (5%). Our mission is to become fully member-funded find out more.

Member Democracy

We are led, and held accountable, by our members. Big operational decisions – e.g. ‘Should we apply for grant funding from Google?’ – are voted on at the AGM. Smaller questions are occasionally asked of the membership throughout the year – e.g. callouts and polls for content/event ideas – via the member newsletter and on social media.

Member Engagement

You can be involved as much or as little as you like – there is no obligation to attend an AGM or answer any of the callouts, if you just want to support us financially and enjoy our work.

On the other hand, we invite you to engage even further than voting if you’d like to – for example, as a volunteer, or if you’re a venue owner or in a band we could partner with you for events. As well as being a media organisation we are a community, and we engage our community as best we can.

All of our work is made possible by people like you, who become member-owners. With our pay-what-you-can system, you can sign up for the price of a pint, one hour’s wages, or the tenner your Nan slips you at Christmas when your folks aren’t looking.

By joining, you are building a sustainable investigative newspaper for Bristol that is relevant, reliable and accountable now and into the future.

Find out more about the value of being a Cable member here.

The Cable so far…

Our membership model means that Cable journalists can focus on digging into important stories that can be costly and risky, but which can help make Bristol a better place. 

Our journalism has improved local democracy, led to criminal charges, demystified council processes, been cited in parliament and used as a case study in research into the future of media.



  • On launching, we raised £3,300 in a crowdfunding campaign, £1,500 from Co-ops UK, and £1,600 from Lush


  • Our reporting contributed to human rights cases changing the way police use powerful surveillance tools



  • Following our #BootOutBailiffs campaign, Bristol City Council changed its policies on the aggressive use of bailiffs for council tax debts



  • Shortlisted for the 2020 Orwell Foundation Prize, for the Ice Cream Slavery investigation
  • We built our own in-house membership platform, that we shared and continue to develop as an open-source tool for other membership media teams, and making us less reliant on Big Tech and protecting our members data



  • Won the Independent Media Association award for Most Innovative Print Publication
  • Won the Independent Media Association award for Local Journalism
  • The Cable was cited as a case study in Dr. Marianne Colbran’s book ‘Crime and Investigative Reporting in the UK’ for breaking stereotypes in reporting on marginalised communities



The Cable is committed to financial and organisational transparency, so we have a page dedicated to it. Find out all about our finances, decision making, data privacy and more at our Transparency page.

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