Frequently Asked Questions about The NewStandard

The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

What happened to The NewStandard?

For a multiplicity of compounding reasons, TNS suspended all its operations in April 2007. For a detailed explanation of what led to the end of TNS, read the collectively authored obituary.

The remainder of this document is for archival purposes only.

What is The NewStandard?

The NewStandard is a unique, independent hard news website. Dedicated to current events reporting and investigative journalism, TNS provides up-to-date news from a journalistic perspective that emphasizes the public interest.

What is the relationship between PeoplesNetWorks and The NewStandard?

PeoplesNetWorks Collective is a nonprofit organization. Its flagship project, an internet newspaper, is called The NewStandard. PeoplesNetWorks has a d/b/a ("doing business as") under the name The NewStandard, and "Premium Members" of The NewStandard are technically members of the PeoplesNetWorks website.

How is The NewStandard funded?

The NewStandard is a reader-funded publication -- that is what makes it truly independent. Because it receives no funding from government, corporate or foundation sources, The NewStandard remains free from outside pressures and accountable to its readership.

Are donations to The NewStandard tax deductible?

Yes. TNS's publisher, PeoplesNetWorks, is registered as a nonprofit, charitable corporation under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Tax Code. The amount of any monetary contributions made to PeoplesNetWorks can be deducted from the gross taxable income of anyone paying United States income taxes.

Why should I trust what I read in The NewStandard?

NewStandard editors engage in thorough fact-checking of all full-length articles published on the website. For news briefs and news reports, sources are attributed and linked whenever possible. Additionally, reporters are required to attribute nearly all facts in the text of their articles so that readers have an opportunity to evaluate sources for themselves. Editors regularly call sources to verify the accuracy of quotes and to ascertain overall honesty of reporters. They also contact expert consultants to evaluate the veracity of extraordinary claims.

TNS editors and journalists go beyond “he said, she said” journalism by checking statements of fact made by sources against other available information. For more information about these and other guidelines, see “What does the news production process look like at The NewStandard?” below, or check out the Content Contributors’ Handbook.

Is The NewStandard’s coverage biased?

Unlike the staff at most news organizations, editors and journalists at The NewStandard make no claims of being “unbiased.” They take the position that no journalist or editor can ever be truly neutral, impartial or unbiased.

Instead, NewStandard staff believe it is important to be explicit about the values and perspective driving The NewStandard’s coverage. When reporting and editing a story, there are hundreds of small decisions made, including: who to interview, what documents to consult, how to structure and order information, and which claims and facts to give weight. NewStandard reporters and editors follow detailed guidelines set out in the Content Contributors’ Handbook so that those choices are informed by a solid commitment to report from the perspective of those who are affected by events, government policy and corporate activity.

Bias at The NewStandard is toward a set of values, not any “side” or player in a given issue.

What is the ideology behind The NewStandard. (Is The NewStandard a left wing, communist rag?)

There is no single ideology behind The NewStandard. Editors and reporters at TNS are firmly committed to providing news coverage in a non-ideological format.

As ideology can often obscure fairness and accuracy, The NewStandard steers clear of partisan pitfalls by demanding constant skepticism on the part of reporters and editors, especially in cases where they are sympathetic to particular sources or positions.

How is The NewStandard different from other alternative media websites?

The realm of alternative media is chock full of excellent publications that provide commentary and analysis of current events and issues. Likewise, there are excellent “aggregator” websites which scour the internet gathering links to the best the existing media have to offer. But both of these formats rely primarily on mainstream media sources, with their attendant pro-establishment biases. Even where corporate publications cover relevant issues, they tend to employ relatively low standards in gathering and reporting the news.

The public deserves better than “the best of the corporate media.” Without reporters on the ground or on the phone, gathering new information and asking new, difficult questions, readers, commentators and analysts are forced to draw conclusions from what they can scavenge from the corporate press.

The NewStandard is not bound by these limitations. Our reporters can cover any event, regardless of whether it is also covered by the mainstream. They also seek out perspectives not seen in the corporate media.

The NewStandard also differs in the format and tone of its content. While, alternative commentary mostly appeals only to the small portion of potential readers whose politics and base assumptions are similar to those of the writer. As a result, many people who would be open to alternative media are turned off by its extreme partisanship and overbearing rhetoric.

There is a large gap between many of the skeptics who reject corporate media and the pundits who produce the majority of alternative content. The NewStandard bridges that gap. The editors of The NewStandard recognize that there are many potential alternative media consumers who want access to underreported information and who want it to be presented in a way that encourages them draw their own conclusions.

How is The NewStandard different from the corporate media?

In today’s corporate- and profit-dominated world, most news media is controlled by commercial institutions and produced by hierarchical, for-profit methods. The result is inaccurate, spectacularized or irrelevant news stories, frustrated journalists, and a confused, disempowered public. Often, the corporate and governmental bias in mainstream news is covered up with claims of journalistic “objectivity,” obscuring public understanding of how state and private interests affect the news.

The NewStandard is organized in a fundamentally different way so as to foster the creation of content that is both as accurate and transparent as possible and conveys in-depth understanding of public interest issues. Rather than hide behind the label of “objectivity” while serving the interests of investors and advertisers, our mission is to portray the world from the perspective of people who view it and are impacted by it.

Another main difference between The NewStandard and commercial media is the type of stories covered and the perspective from which they are reported. The NewStandard’s high threshold for relevance and accuracy differentiates it from most of the news that people are subjected to on a daily basis. Absent from our pages are irrelevant stories about celebrities and the elite. Gone are regurgitated messages from government and corporate spokespeople. Omitted are fluff pieces about fashion and meaningless human-interest stories. Shallow reports about significant events without the information needed to understand historical context and relevance are not found on The NewStandard website.

Instead, NewStandard journalists and editors provide well-researched articles that connect readers to important events going on in their world. In direct contrast to the mainstream media’s obsession with press conferences and official verbiage of politicians and industry “experts,” NewStandard journalists concern themselves with the people that government policies and corporate activities affect. Stories are relayed from the voices of everyday people coping with real issues that impact them, and inspiration is drawn from people working to change their world through grassroots efforts and empowerment.

Does The NewStandard pay journalists for their work?

Yes. The NewStandard’s publishing organization, PeoplesNetWorks, is founded on the principles of “participatory economics,” a value system encouraging equity, solidarity, diversity and empowerment.

The PeoplesNetWorks Collective believes independent journalism is a valuable endeavor, deserving of remuneration. NewStandard journalists and editors perform an important service to the public and their work is often time- consuming and difficult. In order to provide consistent coverage and to assure that the field is not prohibitive to all but the most privileged voices, PeoplesNetWorks pays journalists and editors as much as financially possible.

How does The NewStandard choose its journalists?

As The NewStandard is dedicated to providing consistent, fair and accurate reporting, its journalists are chosen carefully. First, journalists apply by filling out a brief application form found on our website. Then, they are asked to submit samples of previous work or to write a sample specifically for The NewStandard. Once accepted, journalists’ stories continue to be subjected to fact- checking and constant scrutiny by editors.

Though not all journalists writing for The NewStandard have extensive experience before they begin working with The NewStandard, editors look for important interviewing and writing skills. As staffing permits, editors accept small numbers of inexperienced or less experiences journalists in order to provide training and expand the field of skilled independent journalists.

What does the news production process look like at The NewStandard?

Editors learn of stories in various ways, but most commonly from reporters and press releases. If a story topic meets The NewStandard’s criteria of social relevance, the editors accept a reporter’s pitch or assign the story to the most appropriate journalist. Editors usually provide at least some direction, and they typically pre-approve sources. The reporter then gathers information by interviewing sources, reviewing documents and so forth, always making sure to verify the veracity of any source, test the information it conveys against available records, and administer a healthy dose of skepticism to every line of copy.

Once the story is written, editors review the copy and request additional sources or information, as needed. The editors then contact sources to verify accuracy, then re-test the information in the article. Part of the editor’s job is to find holes and weaknesses in the journalist’s reporting -- the other part is to make sure the journalist is happier with the final product than s/he was with the first draft. Finally, editors engage in an exchange with the reporter until both the journalist and the editors are satisfied that the story is accurate and fair while reflecting the most valuable perspectives and providing the most important information. Then the story is posted to the website.

Why doesn’t The NewStandard cover more topic areas?

The NewStandard is a constantly growing news site, but its staff is careful to keep growth sustainable both monetarily and structurally so as to maintain the integrity of our news coverage and process.

We are eager to add new coverage areas, such as Environment, Politics, U.S. Foreign Policy, Social Movements, Corporate Globalization, Afghanistan, Africa, Latin America, expanded Middle East coverage, and much more. We have scores of reporters and several editors waiting for the opportunity to expand the scope of reporting The NewStandard provides the public. In January 2004, NewStandard editors and journalists came together to produce a taste of the kind of national and international coverage we would like to provide on a daily basis. We covered a truly diverse range of topics and regions. To see this sample of NewStandard potential, please click here.

The NewStandard staff is excited about this potential, but we can only grow as our funding permits. If you’d like to help us build a truly comprehensive news source with the ability to bring the public high quality hard news reporting from a people’s perspective, consider donating or becoming a member.

Why doesn’t The NewStandard accept funding from advertisements?

One of the most explicit differences between The NewStandard and the commercial media is The NewStandard’s policy on advertising. The NewStandard accepts no advertising. The result is a news resource with the independence to accurately report corporate activities without fear of losing revenue. By rejecting revenue from advertisements, The NewStandard gains the freedom to choose its own target audience instead of having it dictated by advertisers’ desire to reach certain types and numbers of eyeballs. Unfortunately, every revenue option has a downside. Ad-driven media operations sell users, – subscribers, visitors, readers, viewers, etc – to other companies. That's what advertising is all about: the selling of audiences. While advertising is perhaps the most popular way media institutions have found to provide content at seemingly no charge, if you look closely, you'll find all ad-driven media outlets are influenced by the commercial institutions on which they depend, not least in determining their target audience. They tend to be geared either toward the most affluent audiences they can reach, since their commercial clients pay better for higher class markets; or else they use sensationalism and other tricks to gain massive audiences with more modest incomes.

Why should I donate to The NewStandard?

The NewStandard depends on people like you for funding. If you are one of the millions of people who believe that the corporate media fail to provide sufficient information to the public; if you, like so many others, recognize that an independent press plays a vital role in holding government and corporate power accountable to the public; and if you believe that the media should empower the public and enhance democracy, then PeoplesNetWorks invites you to become part of the solution.

By donating, you will be funding the efforts of independent journalists and editors and allowing them to continue their important work. You will also be helping The NewStandard continue to provide information to hundreds of thousands of readers.

But don’t take our word for it. Here is what Robert Jensen, Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Texas (Austin) and author of Writing Dissent and Citizens of the Empire says about supporting us:

“Aggressive new ventures such as The NewStandard are of vital importance. The journalists reporting and editing the news at TNS -- operating with a fraction of the resources -- put their so-called elite journalistic competitors to shame. It's vital that we support this effort so that they can continue -- and expand -- their crucial work. A contribution to The NewStandard is an investment not only in their project but in the health of our democracy.”

And here is what other donors have had to say about The NewStandard.

If I donate to The NewStandard how will my money be used?

Nearly every penny donated to PeoplesNetWorks and The NewStandard presently goes directly into the pockets of hardworking journalists and editors.

For every dollar you donate:

What if I pledge to donate monthly and TNS fails?

When you join PeoplesNetWorks as a Premium Member, you are committing to a month-by-month "contract" which you can cancel anytime. If you choose to commit to a 1-year pledge, you are expected but not legally obligated to continue donating for 12 months. Even if we do not remain solvent, whether you check the pledge box or not, you are legally permitted to stop donating at any time.

If we have to shut TNS down for any reason, permanently or otherwise, we will notify all members of the situation and offer them the option of cancelling their periodic donations (an option they always have anyway). If PNW has to stop all of its operations, we will cease collecting donations altogther.

What is PeoplesNetWorks membership?

Becoming a basic member of PeoplesNetWorks at no cost, you will be able to take advantage of many of our interactive features. We also offer a Premium Membership which allows our supporters to set up a reoccurring donation schedule.

While PeoplesNetWorks receives many one-time donations to help fund The NewStandard, the majority of contributors choose to become premium member. By donating an average of $10 a month, premium members help guarantee writers’ payment and steady work, and they allow the organization to plan for growth. For these reasons, relatively small, recurring donations are usually preferable to larger lump sums donated at random.

The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.