April 29, 2016

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Frequently Asked Questions

We asked … and you asked right back. Here are responses, if not always answers, to questions registered about Newsdesk.org and News You Might Have Missed.

  1. How do you know it was news people missed?
  2. Indicate your criteria for what you consider to be “important.”
  3. You need more news analysis.
  4. [You should] advance from “nonpartisan” to non-political.
  5. If you’re short on funds, why don’t you bring in more interns?
  6. You should update the site more often, do a podcast — and perhaps a daily or weekly YouTube show.
  7. Newsdesk.org should be syndicated coast-to-coast.
  8. It wouldn’t bother me to see ad banners if that meant more funding for Newsdesk.org.
  9. I’d like longer stories.
  10. Perhaps you could some editorial, interpretive commentary on some of the pieces referred to or highlighted.
  11. Use your audience to find other underreported news. Involve them.
  12. I’m not clear on how to become a subscriber, and what that would entail.
  13. I would like to see a national newsletter of interesting stories and then a separate regional or local newsletter.

How do you know it was news people missed?

NYMHM’s philosophy is pretty simple: Look where everyone else isn’t. Mass media tends to cluster around large, high-traffic stories, a pack mentality looking for the biggest score. We find there are riches to be unearthed on less-traveled ground, and have developed our topics and methods accordingly.

Indicate your criteria for what you consider to be “important.” How do you select your focus?

In general we’re tracking stories relevant to individual and societal well-being, and that as such get crowded off the news budget by Octomom, Rihanna and the like.

You need more news analysis. I need some way of knowing what this missed-news means. You need to underscore the value and importance of your coverage, and need more context.

It’s always a balancing act, because although the goal is to provide analysis as well as summary and context, we also need to be extremely efficient with words and the reader’s time. We’ll take your comment as advice that there’s still progress to be made.

[You should] advance from “nonpartisan” to non-political.

It’s interesting how tricky these words are. We were actually advised, in the past, against even attempting to define ourselves as nonpartisan and also “nonpoliticized,” both terms used by Newsdesk.org in the past.

The real issue is not the words used, but the fact of the reporting’s bias, or lack of it. We aspire to produce coverage that anyone can walk away from satisfied that they got good information, learned something new and/or deepened their understanding of a given issue. Naturally, we have interest in the issues we cover, but it is that interest we want to share, not our opinions. Please do call use out on this whenever you encounter it.

If you’re short on funds, why don’t you bring in more interns?

Quality vs. quantity. It’s true that by working with interns, providing bylines and academic credit, we’ve tackled many tasks and built out our coverage. The thing is, interns are by definition still early in their learning curve, and require plenty of good management to achieve their best potential for the project. As Newsdesk.org’s overall capacity grows, so will the intern program.

You should update the site more often, do a podcast — and perhaps a daily or weekly YouTube show.

Workin’ on it.

Newsdesk.org should be syndicated coast-to-coast.

We won’t survive if it isn’t, and it’s at the heart of the Your Local Newsdesk proposal we’re currently advancing.

If you’d like to use NYMHM for your newspaper, Web site or publication, please drop us a line.

It wouldn’t bother me to see ad banners if that meant more funding for Newsdesk.org.

This is appreciated. We have pondered text ads and suchlike, but this project is focused on a certain ideal around ad-free media. An ad-driven news project would be a different animal altogether.

We’re excited by the prospects of an entrepreneurial syndication model, which serves a double bottom line of earning revenue and advancing our nonprofit mission.

I’d like longer stories.

We’re exploring opportunities around this. Some of it is related to our staff capacity. But also, keep in mind that the Web is a saturated medium: Attention span is the new column inch, and merely adding context isn’t good enough. The craft of writing becomes all the more demanding online.

Perhaps you could some editorial, interpretive commentary on some of the pieces referred to or highlighted.

We do try to provide interpretation and analysis, though only as reporters and editors, not as credentialed experts in a field. That means we emphasize research, and providing context that illuminates both the issues and the sources of information.

As far as opinion and editorializing, there’s plenty of that on the Web already, and while that’s healthy for democracy, it also tends to create “echo chambers” and “information cul-de-sacs.” But the Fourth Estate has to serve all citizens. For that reason, Newsdesk.org eschews opinions and editorials; please let us know how we’re doing!

Use your audience to find other underreported news. Involve them.

Our new editor, George Shirk, is leading this effort. Check out our writer’s guidelines, if you’d like to contribute.

I’m not clear on how to become a subscriber, and what that would entail.

It’s an email subscription, which you can sign up for in the upper right-hand corner of this age. Currently it gets you a weekly newsletter, News You Might Have Missed, rounding up important but overlooked news from around the world.

More photos please (if possible).

Our new Web site and submissions protocol for writers will more photos and multimedia to Newsdesk.org.

I would like to see a national newsletter of interesting stories and then a separate regional or local newsletter.

You bet! We hope to increase coverage, and will create more effective email segmentation for people who want to customize their subscriptions with local stories.

To make this possible, however, we need to do fundraising in the places where a local/regional NYMHM is wanted. We welcome your referrals and feedback about this.

Individual donors or institutional funders who’d like to see News You Might Have Missed put down roots in their region or local community should contact us online, or call 415-738-4975.

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