Akron, Ohio, co-op magazine connects with readers through community reporting

In Akron, Ohio, Abbey Marshall, economic development reporter for The Devil Strip, takes notes during an interview she conducts with the founder of Harmony House on May 5. Harmony House provides transitional housing for at-risk youth. (Yuhan Ma/MEDILL)

By Laura Harris and Yuhan Ma
Medill Reports

AKRON, Ohio — The Devil Strip is a magazine that focuses on arts and culture in Akron, Ohio. As one of the nation’s first co-op publications, The Devil Strip values the sense of community involvement. Every month on the distribution day, the magazines are printed out and distributed around Akron and neighboring communities.

Chris Horne founded The Devil Strip in 2015 with the mission to build a magazine owned by the Akron community. The name “devil strip” originally means the grass between the sidewalk and the street, a localism among Akronites. The magazine could not be truly owned by the community if the only owner was Horne himself. With that in mind, he started looking for co-op opportunities, and eventually developed The Devil Strip into the hybrid model consumer co-op it is now. During the magazine’s second annual co-op meeting, Horne, joined by board Chair Audrey Worthington, shared the work they had done in the past year and their plan for the next year with the shareholders.

The co-op business model gives the community an opportunity to support The Devil Strip. In return, the reporters strive to connect with the community with storytelling. Abbey Marshall, the economic development reporter, is working on a story about Harmony House, a transitional housing supporting at-risk youth. By reporting community issues, Marshall hopes to create a better Akron for community members, which is part of The Devil Strip’s mission. With the notion of “for the people, by the people,” Horne and the team will continue to help readers understand  — and fall in love with — Akron.

Laura Harris is a graduate student at Medill focusing on video and broadcast reporting. Yuhan Ma is a graduate student at Medill focusing on documentary and broadcast reporting. You can follow her on Twitter @YuhanM980802