Haverhill Matters is a new, locally owned and edited news organization that will deliver a robust flow of reliable, timely and trustworthy journalism to you and all the people of Greater Haverhill.
A dedicated group of community leaders – they have signed the open letter on the home page – have come together with allies to organize a cooperative that will own and operate Haverhill Matters.
What inspires the organizers is the great unmet need for reliable news about what’s going on in our city. Civic health depends on a robust flow of reliable information, and the sad but dramatic decline in local reporting, brought on by newspaper staff cuts as advertising dollars have fled for the Internet, has become a civic threat to our city.
So Haverhill Matters is committed to providing excellent day-to-day coverage of Haverhill happenings through a sophisticated news website. Coverage will range from City Council meetings to school sports to business to police news, plus features that capture our city’s experiences and celebrate the lives of its people. Major reporting projects will dig deep into community issues. And the site will take care to report not only about our city’s needs and challenges but also about what’s working. The tone of the stories will range from deeply serious to, when appropriate, lighthearted and witty.
The organizing committee is working to bring together hundreds of local people as members of the co-op that will own Haverhill Matters – people from every neighborhood and every political persuasion, rich, middle class and poor. The enterprise rests on this promise the co-op makes to the community: that readers will experience its journalism as relevant to their lives, respectful of them as people, and worthy of their trust. Click here for a Web form where you can pledge to be a member, volunteer to help, or leave your email address to receive updates.
The co-op members will own Haverhill Matters the way depositors own credit unions and shoppers own food co-ops. All co-ops are governed on a one-member/one-vote basis, ensuring that Haverhill Matters will be a community institution in the deepest sense.
In keeping with this role, Haverhill Matters believes in covering the news in collaboration with the community that owns it; the full-time professional editor will routinely ask co-op member/owners for ideas, and will encourage their input in the editorial effort.
Further, the Haverhill Matters website will not only deliver the news but also amplify its civic impact by giving readers ways to respond to stories the moment they read them. The site will not only invite collaboration in the editorial process but also offer easy-to-use civic engagement spaces where readers can come together on issues of shared interest and work for constructive community change.
Our city’s new community institution will be governed by a board who the members will elect; the board will hire the Haverhill Matters co-op’s executive director and its editor.
The editor will cover the City Council and write some other major news stories, but she or he will focus more on directing the work of part-time reporters, interns from Northern Essex Community College, some high school students, and community correspondents. The co-op’s executive director, whose responsibility will be to oversee advertising and other business matters while engaging the community on many levels, will write a weekly column and be responsible for opinion and editorials.
The Haverhill Matters organizing committee has the good fortune to have gained serious support in its effort to launch our nation’s first cooperative community Web news site. It has adopted a business model created by the Banyan Project, which is based in Newburyport; the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, which has arranged for pro bono legal help, and the National Cooperative Business Association, a major trade group in Washington that sees in Haverhill Matters the prototype for a whole new category of cooperative businesses from coast to coast.
To learn more about Haverhill Matters, see our Frequently Asked Questions.