U.S. nonprofit news agency shuts down

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The online news agency The NewStandard (TNS), a U.S.-based daily dispatch service, ceased publications on Friday, April 27. The not for profit media organization run by the PeoplesNetWorks Collective out of Syracuse, New York was begun in 2004. The 5 staffers that run the collective said that the reason for closure was a "lack of support".

An announcement made earlier this week on Monday said,

As those familiar with us or our work can imagine, this was a tremendously difficult decision for us to reach. But the five staffers who form the PeoplesNetWorks Collective – the nonhierarchical nonprofit that publishes TNS – have accepted that the news publication we envisioned cannot be achieved without a greater level of support. We do not believe we will be able to obtain that support in the foreseeable future, and as individuals, we have reached a point at which we are unable to sustain the long hours and stress that publishing TNS entails.

A Friday email to subscribers again announced that it would be the last daily dispatch, in what the publication called "our unusual endeavor", where unusual meant because it did not accept advertising revenue for any of its online page content. All TNS publications were ad free. Premium donors, those who donated US$10 or more each month, and contributions made by its readership and other organizations, funded the news agency during its 3 and a half year life. In this way, donations were the revenue substitute for advertising dollars.

TNS came close to shutting down once before, over a year ago. Readers were warned of the pending end, and the publication managed to survive with financial support given by both large donors and small. The publication never took off according to an Alexa web traffic ranking result shown in a graph in the 'External links' section below. In comparison to The Washington Post, where the line on top in that graph represents their ranking, TNS was barely on the radar screen.

The content of the online publication was derived from original and featured article reports written by contributors to the publication who were paid between $125 — 100 per article. $50 — $25 was paid to suppliers of news briefs derived mainly from other news agencies, and $25 to cartoonists for their published submissions. Contributors came from all areas of the United States, along with some international.

Cartoonist Daryl Cagle, of CagleCartoons.com, who recently starting posting blog content on emails sent to subscribers of his featured cartoon of the day, blogged Wednesday this week in what he titled, Newspapers and Cartoonists Wandering Blindly:

For many newspaper editors, internet strategy is a fantasy from the movie "Field of Dreams." "If you build it, they will come." Good content is nice (Slate has great original content) but securing a continuing audience for that content is more important. Yahoo and Google maintain top news sites with almost no original content. That's journalism 2.0: circulating content that is created in other media, while paying little or nothing for the content.

Cagle, currently employed by MSNBC.com and formerly Slate, also remarked that, "I still make my living selling cartoons that are printed in ink on paper from traditional clients who actually pay." He said The Washington Post is one of the most visited online media outlets to grow out of the newsprint era.

"When The Washington Post Company bought my old employer Slate.com from Microsoft, the negotiations focused on Slate continuing to receive a huge audience flow from promotions on MSN.com. The Post understands the Web where traffic flows like a river - the river has to keep flowing or the lake will dry up." Cagle said.

The staffers that run TNS are in the process of wrapping things up and promise to archive as much of the site as possible for future reference, and give a fuller explanation for the site’s closure in this coming week.


External links


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.