AKRON, Ohio — *Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report.
Just days after the news magazine abruptly folded, a campaign to save Akron's The Devil Strip, is gaining momentum.
The entire staff was laid off Monday, citing a lack of funding.
The Devil Strip was founded in 2014, a website and monthly published magazine focused on community news, arts and culture. In 2019, it transitioned to a community-owned co-op model, allowing members to take ownership in the paper. It has 1000 some cooperative members.
Now a campaign to save The Devil Strip has raised nearly $20,000 in a matter of days.
“This paper is incredibly important to the community of Akron,” said board member Katie Robbins, who organized the GoFundMe campaign. “It has a huge base of support and notably, it's the first community owned cooperatively owned newspaper, local newspaper in the country. We don't want to see it fail.
“That's why we're doing everything we can since learning this news to raise the funds needed to have a chance to stabilize the organization,” Robbins told 3News’ Sara Shookman.
“We know we need to work very, very closely with the cooperative members to get things back on track. We feel with the incredibly talented staff, as well as the dedicated membership, that there is a path forward for this paper,” said Robbins.
She said three remaining volunteer board members are currently investigating the magazine’s sudden cash shortfalls.
“We are working around the clock literally to try to get the answers to the very valid questions that are being asked from the cooperative members and the larger community. We do appreciate everyone's patience with that,” said Robbins, “Because we want answers too.”
Robbins said the cost to pay staff and publish the monthly newspaper is about $30,000 a month. They set a goal of $75,000 to carry The Devil Strip through the end of the year.
“If we can raise it now that buys us time to work with the cooperative members to get things on track, talk to the incredible foundations in the Akron area that have supported this paper for seven years now,” said Robbins. “There's a lot of interest in figuring out how to get this back on track and make it sustainable. And based on the numbers we have so far from the GoFundMe, I think it shows how much energy there is to really do that.”
She said they hope to hold a meeting with the membership to answer questions and discuss options for the future as soon as possible, hopefully next week. You can find out more about the campaign here.
*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report.