Why we’re doing Publish.org and how you can help

The idea for the Internet’s news desk is based on things some of us have been thinking about while trying to solve problems for the journalism trade over the years. Publish.org is off to a good start, but it needs writers to write, editors to edit, and members to help fund the journalism that gets made via this new platform.

A few years ago I spent some time sitting with the news desk at The Guardian. I was trying to understand the process a little better so I could recommend ways we could apply some of the fantastic technology resources in the building to improve things.

The experience gave us some ideas that led to what we’re doing at Publish.org now. (See analysis by Nieman Lab an Journalism.co.uk)

The most eye-opening thing for me was seeing how much goes into producing the stories every day. As readers that process is totally invisible to us.

We don’t know about all the stories that weren’t good enough to get published. We don’t know about the interrogation Guardian editors give reporters and each other with every piece. We don’t know about the context brought through from deep knowledge of a beat, the history of a story and the framing for it amongst all the other things being published. We don’t know about the checks and balances, the policies and routines, and the standards that professional journalists have built up over the years. And we don’t know about all the people involved in a story ensuring it meets those standards.

It’s so easy for anyone to put words on a page on the Internet and to make it look the same as any other news web site that the casual observer just doesn’t know the difference anymore.

Adding to the problem for us as observers is the fact that the process is closed and rigid. Editors protect the process because it works. Great journalism is very hard. And the process I saw delivers great results. But in today’s connected world this kind of process could be opened up in ways that could make it even better and certainly more accessible to people who are hungry to be part of the journalism community.

What would an open news desk for the Internet look like?

We tried a version of the idea at The Guardian with crowdfunding cooked into the model. We called it Contributoria. It was mostly successful, actually, but having a corporate owner looking for short term ROI was an impossible position for a community platform. Plus, they already had one of the best news desks in the world.

So, we closed it down, left The Guardian and started over completely, this time as an independent nonprofit with a much longer term view on this challenge.

Now we can genuinely put the community first. We have to. It’s codified in the structure of the organization. And we can make it better even though the core intent is the same.

What we’re building at Publish.org is the Internet’s news desk.


The whole point is to make quality independent journalism possible at a global scale by creating a process that is both open to a community that wants journalism to succeed and also organized to maintain high standards. It’s not about left or right or any political agenda. It’s about enabling journalism for the benefit of everyone.

Of course, being nonprofit doesn’t mean we don’t have to make money. We can’t operate without money. Being nonprofit means that our profits, or rather “surplus funds”, get reinvested back into the community we serve.

The more we collect, the better journalism will be served.

We raised €160,000 so far this year which we have used to build the core platform and to start paying journalists.

Next year we are going to need €300,000. I’ve posted about that over here if you want to know more about the financial plan.

There are lots of ways to help us reach that goal. We are actively looking for foundation grants, coverage sponsors, and paying members. Let us know if you are interested in any of those things.

The other thing you can do, whether you’ve joined or not, is to introduce us to your friends and peers. Send an email. Post on Facebook. Tell us who we should reach out to.

Every contribution is critical to our ability to operate.

We are aware that we aren’t the only journalism outlet looking for your support. We genuinely hope that you are supporting others, too. Journalism needs as much support as it can get.

We hope you support Publish.org because you value professional journalism and that you want to make that process accessible to more people. Help us to distribute some of the best things about the traditional news room into the wild open Internet for the benefit of everyone.