Our first full retreat in over a year produced lots of big news we couldnâ€™t wait to share with our readers and supporters. Our new site design and a lot of our ideas for new features and types of content are still in the works, but we will leak to you what we can now, and continue updating you as new items and projects become more certain and concrete.
While we have been operating with a staff of four since last spring, only two of us have been doing administrative work â€“ in addition to journalism â€“ since collective member Simone Baribeau left her full-time staff position in spring 2004. Simone still served on our collective as a third voice over that time, but we mutually agreed she should resign this month before accepting two new collective members who are also staff.
We want to pause here to acknowledge Simone Baribeauâ€™s tremendous contributions to PeoplesNetWorks and The NewStandard. Co-founders Jessica Azulay and Brian Dominick brought her on after an exhaustive search for a third participant to create and develop our organization and its projects. Her role in making The NewStandard what it is today, especially by fully engaging in the creation of the high standards and unparalleled editorial policy we still employ daily, cannot be properly expressed here. When a budget crisis eliminated our ability to pay salaries in early 2004, Simone had to take other work. But her lasting impact on TNS is unmistakable to those who had the privilege of working with her over the past two-plus years. She will be missed.
Replacing Simone and relieving Jessica and Brian of some administrative duties are long-time TNS staff journalists Michelle Chen and Brendan Coyne, bringing the size of our still-growing PeoplesNetWorks collective to four overworked individuals.
The opportunity this provides us for working as a full, participatory-economics organization with equal pay for comparable work cannot be understated. During well over 20 hours of meetings during the past weekendâ€™s retreat, we set out to slowly-but-surely grow The NewStandard and PeoplesNetWorks in new ways without diminishing the strengths that have brought us to where we are now, including the consistent stream of original hard-news content we have provided daily for two years.
Brian is working tirelessly with long-time TNS contributor Amanda Luker to recreate our website from the bottom up. Amanda is one of online journalismâ€™s few jacks-of-all-trades, having worked with TNS in more capacities than perhaps any other freelancer since early 2004: reporter, editor, graphic artist, consultant and now web designer. We are very confident the new site will be more efficient, accessible and professional than our current one. The new design should be ready and integrated with our software by the time we re-launch on February 1, or at least shortly thereafter.
For now, the only new features we are able to announce are daily editorial cartoons and occasional opinion polls. Both will launch with the new site in February, and you can expect each to reflect TNSâ€™s unique blend of nonpartisan skepticism and hopeful belief that news media, politics and social change all have vast â€“ whatâ€™s the term weâ€™re looking for? â€“ potential for improvement.
Our gears are still turning on the selection of our new masthead logo to go with the site redesign. The tremendous response from our readers to the logo ideas floated in our staff blog has provided us with valuable input. There is still time to join the lively discussion of the various proposals we are considering; some of them, to our delight, were submitted by readers themselves.
Of course, itâ€™s not all fun for us. Jessica is hard at work dealing with 2005 taxes, and we are generating deductibility receipts for everyone who donated to support our work during the year. Since we do our own accounting and are averse to bureaucracy, we thank you for your patience and understanding as we wrap up the 2005 bookkeeping process this month.
All in all, we have a lot of challenging work and exciting prospects on our collective plate at the moment, thanks to the supporters who came through for us in 2005. We canâ€™t wait to show you where we are taking that support.
The PeoplesNetWorks Collective