Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Social (journalism) enterprise, I guess...

In an effort to understand the UK's concept of "social enterprise" - a business with primarily social objectives whose surplus is principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximize profit for shareholders and owners. (Social Enterprise - A Strategy for Success, DTI, 2002) - I heard an interesting piece on NPR about a newspaper in Alabama.

The word social enterprise isn't used in the story. The publisher wants to create a not-for-profit and the "earnings will be used to run the paper, and its dividends will help pay the cost of teaching the students."

I have two main questions: 1) Is it necessary to create the organizational distinction for "social enterprise" or, the new legal term, Community Interest Companies (CICS)? It doesn't seem to be an active debate in the US. 2) Is this a dying hope that an enterprise can survive with the added social benefit (or business cost) of working with less experienced professionals?

There seems to be something the UK is trying to develop by promoting CICS that goes beyond the traditional non- and for-profit models.

It is the duty of a newspaper to become the attorney for the most defenseless among its subscribers. 'Anniston Star' philosophy, Col Harry M. Ayers

I hope they succeed. Haven't heard this kind of sentiment for a long time...

2 comments:

SSE said...

Interesting post: the definition of social enterprise is a thorny debate, as is the parallel and related debate about the definition of social entrepreneur and social entrepreneurship. You can see a load of articles on that here or check out our blog for the debate.

Pavlusha34 said...

Very kind of you to share. I was just at an event with one of your colleagues from sse. Love the delicious links! Agreed on the definitions problem.