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The Cooperator
An Unofficial History of the Greenbelt News Review

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page 2 of 7

The Cooperator was run like a school newspaper: any Greenbelter could join the staff. "Everyone in town was free to attend the meetings and to vote on the paper policies and what kinds of articles should be run," reported the newspaper's style sheet in 1945. "The editor and business manager were elected from the floor."

The newspaper, from the start, was a quiet propaganda tool for promoting cooperatives; a 1941 policy required that the newspaper's members belong to at least one other cooperative in town and stated that the newspaper's cooperative was formed for the purpose of publishing activities "in the best interests of the cooperative movement as a whole."

What did it mean to be a cooperative newspaper? For Greenbelters, cooperatives were not simply a form of business, a way to share profits; cooperatives were a new way of interacting with their neighbors. Rather than allow the institutions of their town be run by specialists, Greenbelters preferred to join together and do the work themselves. Greenbelt's first town manager, Roy Braden, described the cooperative philosophy to a reporter in August 1938: "These people have accepted group living wholeheartedly. Almost without thinking about it, they have abandoned the individual philosophy of the communities they came from. Everybody here is interested in everyone else. There is a spirit I would not have believed possible in a new town. . . ."


Cooperator Masthead - September 21, 1938

A rule book published by The Cooperator in its early years stated frankly what the newspaper's purpose was.

The general editorial principles to be followed are:

  1. To translate, by means of news stories and editorials, every incident of community activity in a way that will lead to an appreciation of cooperative community citizenship.

  2. To interpret clearly for the outside world all that the Greenbelt idea represents. . . .

The editorials shall be consistent with the following tenets.

  1. The Cooperator stands for racial and religious equality.

  2. The Cooperator stands for freedom of speech, press and assembly.

  3. The Cooperator shall serve as a medium for furthering those democratic and cooperative principles which Greenbelt and its organizations symbolize.

  4. The Cooperator shall maintain an editor policy of cooperation with:

      a.   other cooperatives
      b.   labor unions
      c.   other organizations maintaining similar aims.

  5. The Cooperator shall at all times maintain an attitude of constructive criticism toward Greenbelt organizations, but always attempt to maintain the highest standard of fairness. . . .

The editor shall always be mindful of the tremendous responsibility involved in publishing a newspaper.



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