Our editorial process explained
By Ed Mitchell 30th March 2010
The Transition editorial system is a service provided by the web project to keep Transitioners and others up to date on a variety of news and discussion streams that flow around Transition on the web.
The recent explosion of (‘free’) web publishing opportunities has lead to a massive step change in the power relationships inherent in who can have their voices heard in the world, taking much of the power from the ‘publishers’ and handing it to us ‘users’. This is an immensely liberating process for many and has enabled all manner of new voices to share their opinions and be heard.
Being part of a bottom up movement, we find this a very exciting opportunity. We are also aware that it is a very messy process, requiring new skills in ‘filtering’ this tsunami of information so that we are not ridiculously overwhelmed with the sheer size of the wave. There is a dazzling and sometimes baffling array of different opinions, information sources, meeting of minds and web punch ups in equal measure. It can be intimidating.
We are told by enthusiasts who know how to filter this information (it’s their competence, job etc.) that it is simply wonderful and the answer to all our problems. But, wow, it’s messy and busy, and shouty and distracting and confusing, isn’t it?
So how can the web project help make sense of it all?
We have designed the Transition editorial system in order to provide a clear and transparent process through which news and discussion can pass equally and fairly. We are publishing items ourselves and ‘aggregating’ and re-publishing items from around the web. This represents our focus on supporting ‘internal’ communications as well as listening out for ‘external’ ripples and thoughts and news.
We refer to the basic elements as ‘Streams’:
- News: editorialised and fact-based analysis and reporting on Transition Network and the movement
- Voices: personal comment, opinion, reflection on issues owned by the bloggers themselves
Diagram illustrating the editorial process on the Network website
The News stream
The news system is an editorial ‘hierachy’ made up of the following:
Standard news streams: all items are considered equal
- Network news: created by editors on the Transition Network website: ‘…transitionnetwork.org/news/network/date/title’
- Community news: created by ‘community microsite’ users on the Transition Network website: ‘…transitionnetwork.org/news/community/date/title’
- Community news: created by initiatives on their own websites which is aggregated via the Sharing Engine: ‘…transitionnetwork.org/news/community/date/title’
All of these news items live in the URLs linked to above. You will notice that they are all ‘…/news/[either network or community]/date/title’. This is because they are all considered equal in the system. No one news type immediately gets ‘promoted’ status. Because we think that introduces a skewed Rank. Promoting items requires an editor, who can be from the network, or community, or a guest – hopefully enabling a democratic platform.
Promoted news streams: editorially selected items
This is the editor’s pick, or front page news if you like. It represents the most relevant news items the editors have seen go through the system, and is thus our ‘most important’ news link.
In order for a news item to be promoted to ‘…/news/date/title’ and be in the promoted stream, an editor, when logged in, does the following:
1. Click on the edit link for any news item
2. In the edit page, click on the ‘node queue’ tab
3. In the node queue editing page, the editor will see (at the time of writing) 2 options: “Current newsletter articles” and “News” – clicking these will either/or add the news item to either of these two ‘promoted’ streams.
4. Editor clicks save and the news item will appear in ‘…/news/’.
This process is the same for newsletter editors – they add items from the site to the newsletter list in this way before they create a new ‘newsletter’ content type (there are separate instructions for this elsewhere).
The Voices stream
For a long time, Rob Hopkins and his dedication to the amazing Transition Culture blog has carried the flame of ‘what is Transition Culture?’ through the web, carefully thinking about transition issues, responding fairly to critiques, reporting on external incidents, and raising points on issues as varied as talking at government peak oil meetings to the pros and cons of making jumpers out of runner beans.
The Transition Voices experiment is a gentle toe in the water of how we can share this responsibility, alleviating the pressure on the Transition Culture blog (we can’t sit back and let Rob do all the work), and encouraging more suitable writers to ‘step up’, sharing the role of carrying the flame.
The blogs system is similar to the news system in that there is an editorial hierachy made up of equal streams (called …/blogs/) and one ‘promoted’ stream which only an editor can use (called …/voices/). It is slightly different to news in that all ‘blog posts’ are fed directly into one ‘blogs stream’ (and not ‘network’ and ‘community’ separations).
Standard blogs stream: all items
- Blog posts created by bloggers on the Transition Network website: ‘…transitionnetwork.org/blogs/username/date/title’
- Blog posts created by respected bloggers on their own websites and aggregated via the Sharing Engine: ‘…transitionnetwork.org/blogs/username/date/title’
Promoted blog posts: Voices
As with ‘…/news’ this is the editor’s pick of individual blog posts which are ‘Transition Voices’ – those items of particular significance to the ongoing discourse that is ‘Transition Culture’. In order for a blog post to be promoted to ‘…/voices/’, an editor, when logged in, does the following:
1. Click on the edit link for any blog post
2. In the edit page, click on the ‘node queue’ tab
3. In the node queue editing page, the editor will see (at the time of writing) 1 option: “Voices” – clicking this will add the individual blog post to this ‘promoted’ or ‘voice’ stream.
4. Editor clicks save and the news item will appear in ‘…/voices/’.