The Bristol Cable
The Bristol Cable is a media co-operative – created and owned by over 1500 (and counting) people in the city. We’re working to redefine media, making it challenging, relevant and accountable to local people.
With free events and training, a multimedia website and a free quarterly print edition, the Bristol Cable is redefining local journalism through challenging multimedia, community action and cooperative ownership. Online, in print and on the street.
We are pioneering a new model for media ownership and production. Want to own your share? Join the co-op from £1 a month.
There are several ways to get involved in The Bristol Cable!
Want to have your say on the city and society through words, audio, film or images? Send in your story ideas or express your interest to become a reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps you would like to help with events, fundraising, membership, distribution or many other activities?
Let us know what area you are interested in by filling in this form.
Come along to our monthly Getting Involved sessions at 6.30pm on the first Monday of the month to get your foot in the door, just before our Monthly Members Meeting. Check our events too.
Who Are We?
The core team of the Bristol Cable is a collective of approximately 10 people involved in developing the project on a daily basis. We come from a variety of backgrounds with diverse skills and other part-time jobs, including waiters, university tutors, youth workers, journalists and others. The team work on content production, educational training and events, digital development, and co-operative growth.
Hundreds of others contribute in various ways. We also have a elected board of directors who provide oversight and strategic guidance.
Over 1500 people are legal shareholders in the Cable through our co-operative ownership. People participate in strategic decisions, workshops and events, and support the project financially- for as little as £1 a month.
We share in common the aim of redefining local media and producing journalism that is high quality and interesting: Holding power to account, intriguing features, powerful opinions and having a laugh! All produced and owned directly by members of our communities.
The Bristol Cable is legally registered as a Community Benefit Society – a form of cooperative where all profits are reinvested back into the project’s aims. See our organisational structure for a sense of how we operate (see picture on the right).
What do we aim to do?
We aim to redefine local media as we know it. In stark comparison to the decline in quality and availability of local media, we aim to create journalism that is fresh, challenging and accountable and produced by people in Bristol.
As a democratic co-operative, we aim to organise the active participation of a broad range of people in creating an alternative media outlet in the city,including through high quality workshops and other off-line events.
We publish a quarterly magazine and continuously publish original multimedia content. As of January 2017 we have published 10 print magazines and regular online content, printed 180,000 copies and hosted dozens of public and member only workshops and events.
Our content aims to make the news, rather than just report it. This includes local investigations, people’s history, local voices, local perspectives on international issues, info-graphics, illustrations, fiction, and other features. Our original journalism is interactive and uses different forms such as graphic design, podcasts, text, photography, illustrations and films.
A key principle is to turn the Cable into a financially self-sustainable co-operative, primarily through membership funds. We consider this both an organisational necessity and a social commitment. More on money below.
Why now? Why here?
Recent years have seen the collapse both in trust, viability and quality of traditional media outlets, locally and nationally. We believe that an essential part of our society is to have an independent and accountable media source that reaches a wide audience and challenges power and received wisdom. Most media sources fall down at one or more of these criteria.
Our first steps in October 2013 were to conduct a consultation process, speaking to hundreds of people and dozens of civil society groups across Bristol. We found overwhelming support and a shared vision for a participatory media project, created and owned by people in the city.
Following this we set about creating a organisation that would take on big issues that affect our everyday lives and communities in a fresh and original way. Keen to ensure we had a range of voices, our second step was to organise an extensive series of free media workshops all across the city in May 2014. Following from that we organised, created and exchanged skills, ideas and ultimately the first edition, online, in print and on the street. Check out a video of the sessions here. We’ve since followed that up with dozens of workshops and pioneering education programme, the Bristol Cable Media Lab.
Since then we are building partnerships with youth groups, universities, journalists, campaigning organisations and professionalising operations, sourcing financial input and rattling a few feathers and calling out hypocrites.
A new model of media in the making.
How is The Cable different to other independent media sources?
Broad-based; content and audience: We are neither a conventional or ‘activist’ publication. Formed as a community owned cooperative we aim to reach a broad base of people across the city- both in the creation and enjoyment of a fresh and challenging publication.
Slow journalism – beyond the headlines: We’re not about chasing breaking news. We want to look at the wider issues from a local and people based perspective through investigative research that places the issue in its proper context.
Multimedia: We aim to have a large part of our content be multimedia, using short videos, infographics, mapping and podcasts.
In print, online, in the street : We produce a 30,00 free print editions every quarter distributed across 25 wards in Bristol. We believe getting offline and into our communities is essential to creating an alternative to boring corporate media. Check out exclusive online features and multimedia here.
Free Workshops and events: Over 1300 people have attended our public events and workshops. We kicked off with over 35 hours of free workshops, open to the public, in May/June 2014. As of then, we regularly hold sessions that are free to members or and affordable to non-members, as well as hosting large public events such as Get Heard Bristol West and a night with Poetic Pilgrimage, the Hip Hop Hijabis. Check out our events page for the latest.
What do we publish?
Everyone is welcome to submit ideas or stories through our submission process.
However, Bristol Cable publishing is subject to our Bristol Cable- Editorial Stance and editorial review process. This involves a back and forth process of editing which ensures your piece remains representative of your voice, whilst also meeting high journalistic standards.
If you are interested in joining our media team, please get in touch!
What about the money?
The main source of income comes from membership. Currently over 1500 people contribute an average of £2.50 a month. Anyone can join the co-op from £1 a month on a one person, one vote basis.
We aim to get to 3000 members to build a sustainable organisation that can pay all the people who bust a gut making it happen! This money goes towards:
- Publication costs – 30,000 free copies every quarter distributed to over 650 locations city wide.
- Office rental and other running costs.
- Workshops & Events – From free quality workshops to big public events, these are the essential part the Cable’s offline and out of print activities.
- Payment to contributors and organisers whenever possible.
The Cable is always working towards the principle of paying all contributors and organisers.
As of the Cable’s 2016 Annual General Meeting in March we have introduced a budget that rolls out payment for co-ordinators and contributors, on an equal and flat rate. See here for a Summary of budget strategies for 2016/17 and a write up of the AGM.
We also run programmes with different groups such as youth organisations including a 4 week programme with unemployed young people, universities and colleges and a pioneering journalism school, The Cable Media Lab.
We have raised money through crowdfunding and grant awards:
- £1,500 from The UK federation of co-operatives, Coops UK, in August 2013.
- £3,300 raised in a crowdfunding campaign, April 2014.
- £1,500 awarded by Lush cosmetics in April 2014.
- £5,000 from the Moondance Foundation, in March 2015
- £40,000 from the Reva and David Logan Foundation, in January 2016
We recently received a £6500 grant from NESTA, and have completed a programme to develop our audience analytics capacity.
Our funds are spent on costs of production, organising workshops, events and trainings & paying everybody at least something when possible.
See our accounts here:
Annual Financial Report 2014-15 – Cable Accounts to March 2015
Annual Financial Report 2015-16 – Cable Accounts to March 2016