World Book Day today. Co-operative News asked me a few weeks back to come up with three books I thought CN readers (and others in the co-operative movement) might find interesting, and they’ve taken the opportunity to publish my response online today. You’ll find it on their website here. Presumably it will also be coming shortly in the print edition
I’ve been meaning for a while to mention here the February issue of Co-operative News (and not because it includes a nice little feature on Gritstone Publishing, the new authors’ co-operative of which I am a founder member – although that would of course be worth the mention!)
Co-operative News has been serving the movement since September 2 1871, and it remains a valuable tool. The decision has been taken – correctly, I think – to move from fortnightly to monthly publication, and the February issue is the first one in this new extended format. It works. The design is significantly better than previously and there’s a good range of news and features (the challenge now, of course, is to maintain this breadth of coverage).
Co-operative News is also undergoing a legal change and will very shortly be opening up membership of Co-operative Press Ltd, which produces the magazine, to its supporters and members. This also seems to me to be a valuable step forward. I’ll be becoming a member. We need CN.
As a journalist I naturally want to see a thriving press. As someone with a strong interest in the co-operative sector, I want to see Co-operative News do well. It has after all been serving the movement since September 2nd 1871.
It’s of some concern, therefore, that Co-operative Press (the co-operative society which publishes Co-operative News) reported a £67,000 loss for the last financial year. Those of us at the society’s AGM on Friday heard that, as a consequence, the budget had been revised and the News’ strategy tweaked. Editor Anthony Murray suggested that the magazine could soon be published monthly rather than fortnightly, with a shift towards the News’ website and digital offer.
A change in the Co-operative Press’s membership structure was also agreed on Friday, so that in future all subscribers to the News will automatically become members of the co-op. This makes eminent sense, and should help to build a wider, and perhaps more committed, membership base. The News needs all the friends it can find.
I have been spending the holiday period in the nineteenth century. Not literally of course, although the festive decorations in my home town do seem a little Dickensian. No, I’ve been immersed in the eight hundred pages of the book Co-operative Production, written by Benjamin Jones and published in 1894, as part of some research I’m undertaking into early producer cooperatives in the UK.
Around page 600 – more precisely, on September 2nd 1871 – we reach an account of the launch of Co-operative News, which announced itself in its first issue (a modest eight pages) as the commencement of “a new era in co-operation, an era of journalism”.
In the years since then, Co-operative News has had highs and lows but it’s hard to deny that it’s been an absolutely invaluable resource for the cooperative movement. The magazine has just relaunched itself ready for 2014 in a new format and with the promise of lots of new features, and although I should probably declare an interest since I sometimes contribute to it, I do think the Co-operative News’ new initiative is an important step forward and one deserving of support.