World Report News
Nonprofit Peace Journalism to Prevent and Resolve Armed Conflict and its Causes. Journalism to Educate, Humanize and Inspire.
World Report News
Nonprofit Peace Journalism to Prevent and Resolve Armed Conflict and its Causes. Journalism to Educate, Humanize and Inspire.
Section 1: What is World Report News?
World Report News is a nonprofit world news service dedicated to proactive, prevention-oriented coverage of war and its causes.
Journalism has the potential to facilitate peace in the international arena. Currently, American mass media does not even come close to taking full advantage of this potential. For the past four years, I have studied the precise reasons why this is so and identified a set of obstacles that prevent new outlets from delivering higher quality world news. Now, with the help of board members, I have prepared a company from the ground up with the primary purpose of overcoming each of these obstacles. Our company will take full advantage of all the promises of modern communications, believing that we can make a measurable, meaningful, enduring, and positive difference in war and peace affairs through education and information.
To meet such lofty goals, we will trace the root causes of conflict everywhere on the globe. Instead of waiting for war to come, we will conduct continual coverage and investigation on the issues that lead to war. WRN will also cover peace affairs, humanitarian aid, development, and progress in international law, with the underlying belief that doing so furthers the cause of peace by connecting everyday citizens with individuals who have devoted their lives to world security and enrichment.
For a breakdown of operational guidelines (which will give you a sense of what kind of content we intend to run) please skip ahead to Section Four.
Section 2: What is peace journalism?
(Skip to bottom, In simpler terms, if short on time)
Peace journalism is journalism that takes full advantage of the positive agency of media and information through accurate, unbiased, multidimensional reporting on war and its causes. Peace journalism rejects notions of dualism, where one side is good, rational, and human, while that side's opposition is evil, irrational, and inhuman. Instead, peace journalism insists that all parties are human, that humans make rational choices based on an assessment of interests, goals, and priorities, and that by understanding all sets of conflicting choices, on each and every side of conflict, we can begin to bridge them together.
With great evidence, peace media theory asserts that any bridging together of conflicting platforms is impossible in the absence of information that majorities across parties can agree with or, at the very least, can begin to understand on the same terms. Approaching war and peace affairs with this outset allows us to fairly represent complex violent issues in a way that enhances understanding and encourages peaceful conflict resolution. Not all conflicts can be resolved whenever we want them to be, but, believe it or not, not all conflicts are inevitable.
Peace media also argues that without active and intentional humanization, standard media will dehumanize outgroup subjects simply by relying on pre-existing schemae which themselves rely on ingroup-outgroup, rational-irrational dualisms. Your standard news story will tend to perpetuate a dualistic version of events even if they do not intend to, because they do not challenge a dualistic version of events which has already been pre-established.
In simpler terms, take this example: Because journalists failed to mention a civilian death toll in the 2003-12 US-Iraq war, Americans relied on the number of U.S. deaths to approximate the number of civilians they assumed had died. As a result, around 2006-2007, when doctors were estimating around 650,000 deaths, the median American told the AP that only 9,890 civilians had died. American news companies did not slander Iraqi civilians-- they simply ignored them altogether, and thus Americans were forced to devise opinions in the absence of information. Peace media seeks to resolve this underlying problem by providing an abundance of information that is "missing" from the prevailing narrative. Similar issues perpetuate conflict even in places where the United States is uninvolved. Because of how exactly this problem works, a conscious effort to establish a counter-narrative is the only attempt that can reorient our media in favor of peace, not war.
Section 3: Who are we?
We are a team of international relations experts and professionals, media scholars, journalists, diplomats, aid workers, and volunteer frontline citizens who make conflict resolution our full-time career. We choose to pursue conflict prevention through media because we believe that there is a huge untapped talent pool in the media world eager and able to make positive and lasting contributions to peace.
Our Board of Directors brings combined working experience of longer than 150 years through more than 140 countries. Board members have worked as U.S. and U.N. Ambassadors, media executives, investigative journalists, professors in both international relations and media, information communication technology analysts, and start-up online media entrepreneurs. Each one of us is thoroughly invested in the mission of peace journalism and holds a strong conviction that we will succeed in our common efforts. Our current board members have developed ICT apps, drafted U.N. and national sovereign treaties, brokered peace in front-line war zones with and (proudly) without government consent, and have produced thousands of total hours of world news media or academic content.
Section 4: How are we going to operationalize these ambitious goals?
1) Remove the influence of advertiser interests by incorporating as a nonprofit and advertising only as much as grantors require; Grantors will be in the sector of peace, media, and conflict prevention so as to ensure solidarity in the mission and its execution, thus preventing advertiser interest from blocking coverage of world events in any and all levels of the company even should large advertising campaigns be necessary per the terms of the grant(s).
2) Cover stories proactively, rather than reactively, so that English-speaking internationals, English-speaking countries around the world, and Americans have access to important news on time rather than too late; this means that emerging conflicts and root causes of conflict in emergent stages will be covered with the aim of conflict prevention and, as often as possible, in pre-conflict stages, rather than only covering already-developed conflicts. WRN will recruit actively from every at-risk country and territory.
3) Run more substantial coverage than American mass media; coverage will begin pre-conflict and will continue through post-resolution and transitional periods rather than allowing gaps in coverage to emerge, with the belief that those gaps give a false sense of how things progress on the ground.
4) Humanize and rationalize all subjects covered so as to understand the points of contention that lead to war, and to guarantee that our agency is never responsible for the propaganda or dehumanization that primes societies to commit or ignore violence; Actively fight against dehumanizing media by using humanization and rationalization and by never providing misleading, obscure, dismissive, or surficial explanations for conflict when valid alternative rationales are present; Stress the human gravity and importance of actions undertaken in war and peace affairs to lend clarity when it comes to evaluating consequences of action and reforming plans of action for the future.
5) Engage and empower readers by including information on how they can act in a situation where their action cannot do or has an incredibly low chance of doing harm (natural disaster relief, refugee relief, economic peace stabilization investments, etc.)
6) Constantly seek feedback from involved citizens around the world to make sure our version of the news is as accurate and as representative of their worldview as possible.
7) Expand our partners' and affiliates' capabilities on the ground by providing them with immediate access to our company's audience. We will issue in-depth news and reports regarding their operations with the aim of gathering momentum behind the conflict prevention/resolution mission. We understand that many of our sources are the organizations and the individuals who have committed themselves and their companies to peace, and we have a genuine interest in broadcasting that commitment to the world with the belief that doing so enables peace and dissuades conflict.
Section 5-A: Where does your money go?
Here is a breakdown of budget goals and stretch goals. Because of the nature of Kickstarter, I have asked for the minimum threshold necessary to run the organization full-time for one twelve-month year, while reserving hopes that we can meet stretch goals to take on additional senior employees, executive editors, and to allow travel to and from Washington, D.C. (Alternatively, if we exceed our minimum goal by around 430%, we will be able to run the business from an office in D.C. instead of in Ohio. Due to the blessings of online journalism and modern communications, however, we are confident that we can take the organization forward successfully at minimum threshold levels from an office in Ohio while retaining a permanent liaison inside of the D.C. beltway).
MINIMUM REQUIREMENT: $42,890.00
This minimum goal allows me to run the company full-time from a small private cubicle in Columbus, Ohio. The model here relies almost entirely on volunteer submissions and aggregating reprints from like-minded writers around the world, with a small cash pool (generated from a separate fundraising campaign, already secured) to incentivize early qualified writers who will get the ball rolling. A small number (currently six) volunteer issue-area experts will moderate their own expert-area content submissions on a part-time, volunteer basis. These individuals have already been contacted and have expressed their interest in senior-level participation. Each will serve as the administrator for content revolving around their area of expertise.
I will spend most of my time recruiting volunteers, soliciting content, editing, publishing, managing the website, managing correspondence and partnership development, and growing relations with other media companies and freelancers so that we are able to share information. My goal here is not to run big business media out of town-- I would be much happier to see mass media companies embrace my approach, and I have been overjoyed that I have so far received a warm welcome from some of them. I will also be aggregating and reprinting third party data and third party articles to supplement the original material we are able to produce.
In addition to all of this, I will manage the design and production of The Early Warning Monitor, a long, detailed annual publication that will be sent to key decisionmakers in conflict management. The Early Warning Monitor will focus first on growing positive peace and preventing conflict's escalation, second on conflict resolution, and third on peace affairs and peace work.
NOTE: If we exceed the minimum threshold but are unable to reach the next benchmark, the remaining funds will be applied to bolster website hosting capabilities, print production capabilities, design and editing capacities, and to take on part-time workers if, when and wherever needed. In other words, they will be used to boost the quality and quantity of our work. Funds will not be used for contingency into the second year of operations. Second-year funding will arrive from outside sources if we are able to meet the minimum threshold presented here.
ADD: LIMITED BENEFITS, PRIVATE OFFICE, LIMITED DOMESTIC TRAVEL: $58,809.30
ADD: OFFICE IN WASHINGTON , D.C.; SUBTRACT: OFFICE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO: NEW TOTAL $73,293.00
ADD: ONE FULL-TIME SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR to assist me, office is in Columbus, not DC: $108,309.30
ADD: ONE MORE (total of 2) FULL-TIME EXECUTIVE EDITOR, office space is still in Columbus, OH instead of DC: $160,669.30
MYSELF AND TWO FULL TIME EXECUTIVE EDITORS BASED IN DC INSTEAD OF COLUMBUS: $215,339.30
BEYOND $215,399.30, we seek to hire full-time the following Chief Officer positions: CLO, CCO, CEE, CSO, grant writers, and an executive secretary. Every individual will assume two of the above roles until we can afford to hire for each position individually. The position of Director of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships has already been filled by a full-time volunteer based in Washington, D.C.-- this individual will be added to payroll and paid as Chief Legal Officer and Chief Compliance Officer as the first additional stretch goal is met beyond the $215,399.30 mark (Minimum additional investment of $53,000.00, which covers salary, filing, additional office space and desk, and employee benefits for this first additional hire).
Section 5-B: What will the Minimum Investment return to the public, as opposed to Stretch Goals?
The minimum investment will allow a website able to deal with loads of traffic, one major annual journal production (The Early Warning Monitor), and regular publishing of online content in long form journalism, op-eds, and quantitative or qualitative analysis at a rate of several days per week, with regular daily publishing, semi-regular investigative and analysis publishing, weekly interview/diary publishing, annual production of The Early Warning Monitor and distribution of The Early Warning Monitor to international development, relations, law, aid, and compliance organizations globally and in the D.C. area. In short, I can effectively run the company and all operations on less than forty-five grand all told.
All we really need to do is reach the 42.9 mark to get the ball rolling. World Report News campaigns are planned until February 2015 to secure as much as $600,000.00 in additional funding, and at least some are expected to succeed. Exceeding the minimum investment here on Kickstarter is therefore not necessary, but we do need to meet that threshold of $38,000 in order to file the company, build the website, launch the service, rent an office, buy simple things like a desk and file drawers, and begin full-time, 100%-committed operations at a rate of c. 63 hrs/week (eleven-hour work days five days a week, with four hours on the sixth and seventh day to keep abreast of urgent developments and edit/publish incoming urgent reports). If we are able to have those matters settled by the time philanthropist boards meet at the end of this year and the beginning of next, we enjoy a remarkably higher chance of securing additional funding from those parties and expanding rapidly early in 2015 by taking on more full-time senior editors.
Stretch goals (additional employees) allow more frequent publication of the important Early Warning Monitor, more frequent reporting, more in-depth analysis, more interviews, a higher-traffic website, higher website security, and higher website SEO. Beyond the three-employee D.C. mark, meeting further stretch goals allows us to host fundraising events, hire a full-time grant-seeking officer for generous annual endowment support, pay our as-of-now-volunteer CLO/CCO/Director of Outreach and Strategic Partnerships, and set aside cash pools for travel and high-publicity writing contests.
The highest marked stretch goal we've planned for is beyond what you would believe, so don't spend time worrying that we can't properly allocate a donation. Most of that is driven by the need to hire more people, so each time we pass another mark, more often than not, it means being able to take on one more full-time employee committed to the cause and established in the field. Short of that, we apply more funds to business travel, website capabilities, and much-needed office space and equipment, an area that we are almost entirely eliminating to request a number under forty thousand.
Every dollar really does make a difference in what we can accomplish. Every dollar is more time we can collectively invest in this work, and I hope by now you are convinced that this work is important. So thanks again for your support, and I hope that you'll continue to check up on us. The site goes live November 2014, so we'll see you there!
Thank you again, and wishing you all the best,
Risks and challenges
Challenge: A conflict emerged unexpectedly and we have no experts on the relevant issues or areas.
Solution: We find them. Before we find them, we locate high quality affiliate news or seek to reprint the absolute best of unaffiliated content, and we run that content as we would our own, with the same promotions and discussion. We do not need our own brand name on everything that we publish. As long as the content works to inform and educate the audience about complex war and peace affairs, we are achieving our objectives. Americans still have need of a place they can trust for a higher standard of world news, regardless of whether or not someone else is printing it. To prepare for this scenario, we have already contacted leading foreign policy journals and world news groups and have secured the legal right to rerun stories that we select.
Challenge: We've gotten so much initial funding that we have established office space and employees that we may not be able to maintain if we cannot continue to generate financial support. Major grants have pulled out or fallen through, and now It looks like we may have to cut back just to keep the website alive.
Solution: We make the necessary sacrifices. That's just how nonprofits work. Everyone involved in this business has a heart-and-soul passion for peace journalism. We are not in this for job security, and we do not necessarily even expect it.
- (37 days)