Dear Brooklyn, Your New Media Technology Has Arrived

Bridge LightsWith the rest of the world, Brooklyn The Borough is changing.

We are inviting you to join us in a borough-wide effort to build a new model for local media in Brooklyn with our newly launched campaign on IndieGoGo.com.

Your tax-deductible membership contributions will pay for a staff of editors and engineers to get the new infrastructure off the ground and running. Membership dollars will continue to support the operation and growth of a new type of public media for Brooklyn.

This is massively complex and yet really simple. We need a new kind of media for a new era – internet public access if you will. Media that is for us and by us, that tells the truth as best as it can, reflects our cultures, and informs us about our community wherever we go across devices.

I’ve been personally committed to this vision since founding Brooklyn The Borough in 2009. I’m a native of New York City, an interdisciplinary media professional with a love for NPR and a background in political science and history; and I’ve been working at building this concept for over four years.

Brooklyn has co-ops for food, cars and housing – so I thought why not our media? Cooperative Public Media will offer the best way for us to connect with each other locally, share ideas and resources and pass on the latest local deals at our favorite independent shops and restaurants, strengthening the economic backbone of our community.

This project needs you. Together we can establish a forum for people to share skills and resources; an Indie Interchange for local discount deals and ticket sales at a fraction of the cost and with a maximum local audience potential. Plus, tourists can use it to find fun things to do when they visit.

On Brooklyn The Borough you can own your own revenue streams and information. We are not in this to centralize profits or data, as many internet companies are; we live here, we love Brooklyn and we want everyone to benefit from connecting in a new digital way.

This isn’t a land grab; it’s a cooperative development. It’s an invitation to your piece of the local digital landscape. Let’s experiment with organizing and building a free press for and by the people of Brooklyn. Just like a wiki, but way better.

Many of us have moved on to a digital media based economy and our businesses don’t really have a good place to share local information with us anymore. Local group deals sites have swooped in to this space in our local economies and enticed businesses – with some success and some failure – to participate in discount group deals that push the boundaries of a small business’s margins and yet rake in upwards of an 87% profit margin for themselves. That is our money leaving the community.

Similarly, ticket companies sign non-competitive contracts with music venues for large sums of money to handle digital ticket sales. Both venue and buyer are paying growing fees and locked into contracts with fine print. These companies then merely license tickets to concertgoers, which means our cultural engagement is subject to their approval. (Seriously, read the fine print.)

Either way, local businesses, venues and performers have profits skimmed off the top of their margins. The end result is stalled innovation and negative financial impact on creative expression. Plus, Brooklynites are no better for it when their money leaves town.

Instead of continuing to accept this losing deal from third party corporations, we can join together and build a system that works for us. When member businesses make a sale through the new Brooklyn The Borough, a small transactional fee goes towards supporting the continued operation of a free press by us all without traditional display advertisements. The side impact of this model eliminates the financial risk of the group deal and contractual obligations of the ticket seller. All proceeds will be reinvested in growing the community by creating jobs and innovating new media technology to keep the ball moving forward. We have a lot to build.

The necessary foundation for this new model is already complete. For a tax-deductible $25 contribution you can be one of our first 500 citizen reporters to contribute content about your Brooklyn in our month long beta test starting in January. If you own a Brooklyn business your a tax-deductible contribution of $75 will make you a founding member of the Indie Interchange to promote local deals, sales and grand openings right out of the gate. Our readers will know you support free speech and an open internet.

Brooklyn’s best local events calendar will exist only once everyone who has an event is able to add to it. Individuals can add content for as little as a tax-deductible $5 membership contribution.

Local venues can contribute at the tax-deductible $150 level to promote listings, related content and ticket sales for two years. Venues may choose to use our ticketing service when it launches (with a small transactional fee) or link up their preferred service for sales conversions for the basic cost of their membership. Instead of leaving town, those small fees are reinvested into content about the events and people influencing culture in Brooklyn.
Our venue partners will have first access to use our live streaming platform for local performances over fair access wireless broadband provided by the local carrier WiFi NY – a local member-supported, non-commercial carrier-class internet network. Video and audio downloads of these live performances will provide additional revenue streams for our many underpaid local musicians who can establish their own channels.

We have a big vision for cooperative public media in Brooklyn, but right now we need your help in spreading the word that this is possible, and we can support it right now. Contributions as little as $5 are a big vote for this project to go forward. There are many levels and perks to entice you.

The details are up on Indiegogo.com. All contributions are tax-deductible and will support the building and growth of Cooperative Public Media as a new way of doing local business and informing the community and the world about the best of Brooklyn.

Before this campaign ends, on December 3 the world’s telecommunications regulators will meet in Dubai to negotiate new treaties. Next year will bring many changes to the internet landscape with the expansion of the number of top level domains (.com, .edu, and .net will soon also include .google, .amazon and maybe even .nyc). Soon we will see a big shift in what the internet landscape will look like. Now is the time to establish a horizontal media network among our citizens that acts as an equal playing field to report on our culture and community concerns.

It may sound complicated, but it’s not. Much was done to protect the people’s interest in TV and radio airwaves from the start of the information age. Now we can build similar protections into our public digital system by letting everyone have a hand on the turning wheel.

UPDATE: Thank you to everybody who supported and spread the word about this campaign!

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