The Fourth Estate Comes Into Focus in 2020
In 2010 the Fourth Estate was born as a crazy idea—build a mission-driven, for-profit - multi-stakeholder journalism organization for the new realities of the news business. I wanted to make something valuable to journalists and the journalism ecosystem; in return, members will own much of that created value.
We initially elected to incorporate as a Public Benefit Corporation. A unique type of business designation that means that although we are a for-profit entity with a concrete public benefit purpose that comes first in our charter purposes. More simply: We put our mission before profits.
I didn't want to create a non-profit. I believe the future of journalism, and our work in support of that future must leverage all the tools in the business toolkit – that includes access to the capital markets.
In 2018, that commitment to member ownership led us away from our incorporation as a public benefit corporation. Instead, we embraced becoming a multi-stakeholder cooperative public benefit corporation—100% owned and governed by our members and in service to the public benefit and our mission to foster, support, and incubate a vibrant and sustainable free press.
In 2020 I am delighted to announce that the Fourth Estate has come into focus and completed that transition,—becoming to my knowledge the very first journalism Public Benefit Cooperative.
This has wonderful implications for our business and our member-owners as we forge meaningful and diverse service offerings for the new reality of the news and journalism in the public's interest.
I invite you to become a lifetime Fourth Estate Co-op member-owner.
W. Jeffrey Brown
Founder and Executive Director
Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation