Name: THE BRISTOL CABLE
Mission: INFORMING, ENGAGING, INCLUSIVE CITIZEN JOURNALISM FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE OF BRISTOL
It was through a colleague at work that I first heard about The Bristol Cable. I was immediately intrigued and went on their website. After recently receiving a message from them on Facebook I asked if they would let me feature them on The Spiralling, and luckily for me they said yes!
The Bristol Cable is a co-operative, owned and managed by members, producing a free bi-monthly magazine and quality local independent news website. They also host an exciting range of talks, events and media trainings which are free for everyone but members are prioritised.
In 2013 when the Cable was just a concept, the first founders held a public consultation and invited people from a large range of community groups in Bristol to get involved. “More people joined and started meeting regularly. We staged a successful Crowdfunder and launched a month-long series of free media training events for the people of Bristol. The enthusiasm generated by this fed into the planning and launch of our website and first print edition.”
It’s no secret that there has been a huge decline in recent years of the quality of media on both a national and local scale. “In Bristol the mainstream local press is a mouthpiece for the police, business interests and seems mainly interested in upholding a conservative status quo rather than addressing the issues and stories that are behind the news. We felt that Bristol needed a platform for deeper investigations, diversity of voices, holding those in power to account and engaging with the community.”
Judging by the overwhelming support and enthusiasm the Cable has received from the people of Bristol, they are providing something that was missing before by giving local people a voice. “We are inspired by the passionate and original people of Bristol’s communities who deserve to have their stories told and heard. Anyone who creates genuine and engaging media, those who are often marginalised by the mainstream press, people who stand up for what they believe in. You do not need any experience to get involved in the Cable, just commitment, some time and original ideas.”
Becoming financially sustainable is the biggest challenge faced by any independent media organisation. Currently The Bristol Cable has around 250 co-operative members who contribute £1 per month to receive full member benefits (if you’d like to read more about the membership click here.) “We have been lucky enough to get a few small grants along the way plus our initial Crowdfunder. We also include a small amount of community advertising in our magazine. This means we are currently able to cover our overheads which are mainly printing costs as well as office rent.”
There is still a long way to go if The Bristol Cable is to succeed in their long term plan “of paying people for their generous contributions to this ambitious project. Creating the Cable has only been possible through the vision, determination and hard graft of a small team of committed individuals. A much larger group of volunteers have also donated their hours and work for free because of a shared passion for independent media. These people deserve to be rewarded so that good quality independent local media can be sustained and thrive.”
One of the Cable’s proudest moments so far was “When, after months of planning, a truck arrived outside our office and started unloading pallets containing 10,000 copies of our first print edition. A collaborative effort made for and by the people of Bristol, free to the reader and packed full of interesting, unique, gritty and juicy content.”
The Bristol Cable have lots of exciting plans in the pipeline including more free talks, events and training sessions. “The best thing to do is to join as a member and get involved so you will be kept up to date of upcoming events. Keep your eye on our calendar here for dates of future meetings and do come down to show us your support. We look forward to meeting you there!”