In 2018, Global Voices newsroom editors, section leaders, and other core team members will be experimenting with a new approach to our work: periodically setting detailed goals and keeping track of our progress on the Community Blog. In the following post, news editor Lauren L. Finch presents her plans for the first part of the year.
Over the last several years at Global Voices, we’ve raised the editorial standards of the stories we publish. This has helped to ensure that more of the world is not only reading, but understanding, even empathizing, with the people we feature and issues we highlight.
But the process hasn't been as smooth as it could have been. We haven’t managed to communicate the publication process as transparently as possible in this virtual environment of ours. As evidence of that, we continue to face challenges in consistently recognizing a “GV story” both in topic and form, establishing clear publication expectations for authors new and old, and explaining the sub-editing process.
Naturally, this has been a source of frustration or confusion among new and existing community members. These themes recently came up in discussions at the 2017 Summit in Colombo, but they were already present before then.
Volunteer authors are the heart and soul of GV. What would we be without our community? Therefore, it's crucial that we create an environment that is fulfilling as well as realistic in its demands.
With that in mind, my goal for the next three months will be to design, in consultation with the community, some sort of easy-to-read, visually interesting guide that clearly and succinctly explains the publishing process at GV for newcomers and long-time community members alike so that expectations are clear from the start.
A collaborative process with the community
To go about this effort, I will begin a dialogue with section leaders, regional editors, sub-editors, and community members during month 1 on how they view the ideal publication process, collecting notes along the way. I will also research different formats and examples of other organization’s work for inspiration (infographic, gifs, video, written manifesto, etc.).
Come month 2, I will distil all of the points collected over month 1 into some sort of succinct language. I will then share that with several focus groups of five GVers that represent a healthy cross-section of the community demographics, and ask for feedback.
In month 3, I will incorporate the feedback into the language, edit it into some sort of guide, and share the finished product with the community.
Periodically, I will also check in with Japan editor Nevin Thompson and Latin America and Spanish language editor Laura Vidal, whose goals overlap in certain ways with mine.
Because writing for GV should be a satisfying experience
If achieved, I hope this guide (or guides) will make publication at GV a smoother experience for authors in four main ways:
- by lowering the number of stories overhauled or rejected for not matching GV’s mission;
- by outlining what authors can expect from the publication process (pitch to information gathering to writing to editing and mentoring to sub-editing);
- by dispelling the notion that GV stories must be millions of words long and entail millions of hours of labor;
- and by explaining more transparently what the role of the sub-editor is.
As a by-product, I also hope that it might inform how we can improve our editing and sub-editing processes.
Because writing for GV should be clear-cut, illuminating, and, ultimately, a satisfying experience.