Letter to Joel Achenbach

Dear Mr. Achenbach,

I saw a Romanesko comment about your blog post on the Huffington Post’s “News the Mainstream Media Forgot to Report.”

You are correct that the column doesn’t live up to its promise — although it’s no surprise. Well-funded news and opinion services of all sorts have been trying to develop that kind of beat for years, but I am always surprised that so few can nail it.

I’d like to let you know about a project that does nail this beat, consistently. It’s a nonprofit aggregation and analysis service called News You Might Have Missed, featuring “important but overlooked news from around the world — and your own backyard.”

Check it out … and if you like it, please spread the word:

http://newsdesk.org/
http://www.newsdesk.org/archives/news_you_might_have_missed/index.html

We at Newsdesk.org have been publishing NYMHM every Wednesday since February 2002. We approach the topic from a nonpoliticized perspective, drill down into local/regional English-language news media worldwide, track diverse topics over time, and have a strict set of guidelines as to what actually qualifies as “important but overlooked news.”

Although we are bringing in almost 30,000 unique visitors monthly — an impressive figure by any reckoning — I need to point out that we update the Newsdesk.org home page only once per week, and the entire NYMHM is almost entirely volunteer-run. I do the editing in my spare time, and have a passel of interns from local j-schools developing our coverage (and honing their research and writing skills in the process).

Because we have no budget — funding for nonprofit media is extremely scarce unless you are an activist/op-ed news site such as Alternet or Grist — NYMHM essentially does summary and analysis of existing coverage, which we attribute rigorously. This will have to suffice until we can develop stronger revenue streams through both earned income and nonprofit fundraising.

I’m a former editor at SFGate.com, and took a colossal career risk in 2001 by resigning to work in the nonprofit news sector. It has been a difficult row to hoe, even with all the talk over the last year about the importance of nonprofit news media.

We at Newsdesk.org remain committed, however, to making good on the promise of public media on the Internet. NYMHM is a vital, commercial-free news service that gives us the foundation to do so. It’s a growing body of work that we can produce efficiently and affordably in what is frankly a hostile funding environment — and it offers many intriguing revenue opportunities for a young, entrepreneurial, nonprofit news project.

Most important, however, is that we spread the word about NYMHM far and wide. Any mentions in your column are welcome!

Best regards,

Josh Wilson
Editor, Newsdesk.org
San Francisco

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One Response to Letter to Joel Achenbach

  1. admin says:

    UPDATE: The letter above was well-received, and Joel plugged News You Might Have Missed on his Washington Post blog.

    It’s alllll the way at the end of the post, and comes sans any commentary beyond “check out” … but it’s a good nod in our direction.

    Congrats, NYMHM folks!

    josh

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