Who owns the News?
At Berkeleyside, a Direct Public Offering turns readers into Investors
Featured Speaker: Frances Dinkelspiel, Author and Co-founder of Berkeleyside
When Berkeleyside, an online news site in Berkeley, CA, posts an article about a new apartment building or fraudulent enrollment in the Berkeley school district, the comments pour in. Everyone in Berkeley, it seems, has an opinion – and they let Berkeleyside know. It’s not unusual for a story to garner 100 or 200 remarks.
When shots ring out at night or police race down the street, sirens blaring, Berkeleyside’s Twitter feed lights up with readers reporting in what they saw or heard.
This is community journalism, 21st century style.
When three journalists formed Berkeleyside in 2009, they had no idea they would be tapping into this reservoir of passion. They just thought they were filling a gap left when Bay Area newspapers cut back on their local reporting.
But the response from the community was tremendous and Berkeleyside has evolved into the essential news source for Berkeley. Berkeleyside now publishes five to 10 stories a day about the city, has 220,000 unique visitors a month, 36,000 Twitter followers and 14,000 Facebook likes. It has won several journalism awards.
Now Berkeleyside is tapping into that engaged community to ensure that the site flourishes. Berkeleyside is the first media organization in the country to launch a Direct Public Offering to raise funds. Berkeleyside is selling shares of non-preferred stock in Berkeleyside, urging investors to consider the value of supporting local journalism.
Frances Dinkelspiel, one of Berkeleyside’s co-founders, will talk about the DPO, which is regulated by the state of California, and how it might serve as a model for other community news sites around the country. She will also talk about the differences between writing for traditional newspapers and online sites where interaction is but a click away.