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Could local news driven by residents who pay fees…work?

Lots of schemes to save local journalism have been suggested, and whether or not many of them will pan out is still unclear. Here’s one more to add to the mix: “community information districts,” special service districts with community-driven fees levied on a certain area to power local journalism in a continual feedback loop.

“The how-to of all of this exists. We know how to make community, we know how to do great journalism, we know how to provide for local news and information needs. The one thing we don’t have is the funding model to make that happen,” said Simon Galperin, a media consultant who is spearheading the Community Information Cooperative behind the info district idea.

To be clear: This wouldn’t be an opt-in situation. The mindset of the Community Information Cooperative is to provide the tools to communities (of any size or definition) to develop a district in their own local government area by democratically lobbying for its creation. The model is set up so that a fee levied on residents — analogous to regular fees for public services such as fire protection, water, sanitation, or business improvement districts in local areas today — within a certain area would allow the community to essentially self-fund their own local reporters.

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