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The Bristol Cable

Building a new model for media

The Cable is not your average newspaper.

In 2014, a small group of volunteers decided to do something about the failures of corporately-owned local media. Through organising and crowdfunding with local communities, the Bristol Cable was born.

Today the Cable is 100% owned by thousands of local people. We produce quality local journalism in print and online, free to access for all.

Together, we hold power to account through groundbreaking investigations, we campaign for change, and we amplify marginalised voices. We are rooted in local communities, but part of a global movement to reinvent local media.

We are not-for-profit, led by our members, and we don’t accept corporate advertising.

We’re trying to build an alternative to the unprecedented crisis in trust and viability faced by journalism.

This is only made possible by people like you, who chip in what they can to build a new model for media. You can join from as little as a few pounds a month.

Who we are

As well as the Cable being owned as a reader cooperative, our staff team is run democratically as a worker co-operative.

We also have a board of non-executive directors, who are directly elected by members, to help guide, advise and steer the Cable. We regularly work with freelancers and in partnership with charities, community groups and other publications. 

What we do

Owned and led by members

The Cable is 100% owned by thousands of local people: Bristol Cable members. 

Every member is a democratic shareholder, and can help steer the co-operative forward. For example, by voting on editorial campaigns, standing for election to our board of non-executive directors, prioritising our resources or strategic focus, and helping us grapple with key issues facing the organisation. Members form a core part of our financial sustainability, and help drive us towards a goal of being wholly funded by member contributions.

We use pioneering methods of in-person and digital engagement to put the public at the centre of public interest journalism, such as our Annual General Meetings or local elections Citizens’ Agenda.

Because members buy in, the Cable can never sell out. 

Impactful journalism

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 the city and beyond a better place. 

Our journalism has:

The Cable is the winner of the 2019 British Journalism Award for local journalism and was shortlisted for a 2020 Orwell Foundation Prize.

Engaging communities and amplifying voices

With trust in journalism consistently at rock bottom, we get out there and engage with a wide range of communities to build relationships that inform and improve our journalism. This includes communities that are often marginalised or discriminated against in the media. 

We regularly run programmes aimed at skilling up people in journalism, such as Media Lab, our pioneering free training course run in partnership with the Centre for Investigative Journalism, and our Early Career Journalist paid placements.

Building a movement for the future of journalism

Journalism is facing a chronic crisis in financial viability. The consequences for our communities and democracy at large are already being felt in the rise of disinformation, news deserts and people just switching off altogether.

As part of a growing international movement to build a future for quality journalism, we are proactively involved in efforts to promote collaboration, lobby for policy changes, and create new tools for community-minded news organisations. 

The Cable’s unique business model and approach is widely cited as a leading example of local journalism innovation, and we have given evidence and insight to propel the debate, from the House of Lords to the Reuters institute for the study of journalism at the University of Oxford.

Transparency and funding

The Cable is committed to financial and organisational transparency.

Starting with just a few grand raised through a crowdfunder, as of May 2022 2,700 people are Bristol Cable members. Income raised from membership and other small streams such as advertising, regulated by an ethical advertising charter, accounts for 37% of our income. 

As we work towards sustainability, we have been supported by philanthropic foundations, who respect our absolute editorial independence and recognise our attempt to build a new model for journalism.

Read more on transparency.

Philanthropic supporters:

2022, July: £110,000 (€130,000) from the European Journalism Centre for Future of Cities solutions journalism project.

2021, August: £23,350 from Lankelly Chase to develop our Community Relationship Management system.

2020, December: £86,500 core funding plus £60,500 match funding from the Reva and David Logan Foundation over two years.

2020, February: £41,143 from Nesta Future News Pilot Fund to develop our community engagement practices and tools.

2020, January: £350,000 core funding from Luminate (formerly the Omidyar Network) over three years.

2018: £5,000 from the Centre for Investigative Journalism for Media Lab 2018.

2018, January: £200,000 from the Omidyar Network over two years for core funding.

2017, November: £150,000 plus £35,000 match-funding from the Reva and David Logan Foundation over three years for core funding.

2017, February: £6,500 from Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust for police surveillance campaign.

2015, November: £80,000 from Reva and David Logan Foundation over two years for core funding.

2015, August: £6,500 from Nesta for audience analysis project.

2015, March: £5,000 from Moondance Foundation, for Media Lab 2017.

2014, April: £1,500 from Lush for core funding.

2014, April: £3,300 raised in a crowdfunding campaign.

2013, August: £1,500 from Co-ops UK for core funding.

Annual Accounts

Annual Financial Report 2020/21

Annual Financial Report 2019/20

Annual Financial Report 2018/19

Annual Financial Report 2017/18

Annual Financial Report 2016/17

Annual Financial Report 2015/16

Annual Financial Report 2014/15

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