JA Publisher Profile: The Hawaii Independent, a profitable news co-op “rooted in the community…like the Green Bay Packers.”

Ikaika Hussey: “We need an institution that’s going to be here for the long haul. And I think the only way to do that is still the community owned, truly community owned institution.”

Ikaika Hussey helped start The Hawaii Independent as a standard, albeit small, for-profit corporation five years ago. A handful of local investors put their money into the local news venture built by a group of local journalists and community activists, including editor and publisher Hussey. But after several years, Hussey went back to those investors and pitched a switch to a cooperative business model for the news organization.

The change happened earlier this year; he mentioned the plans during the Journalism Accelerator forum on local and niche news sites last February. The JA called him recently to follow up and learned that The Hawaii Independent now offers both subscriptions and ownership, with different benefits, following international cooperative principles and guided by organizational bylaws.

Hussey’s inspirations include The Banyan Project, his belief that independent media must be locally owned, and a vision of community contributors building solid journalism. The Hawaii Independent was profitable last year, and Hussey intends to send all member-owners a check at the end of 2012.

JA: What is your secret to being profitable? 

IH: I do sales every day. (Laughs).

Read the full interview on the Journalism Accelerator, and look for Ikaika Hussey next week at Block by Block 2012.

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