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Our editorial process explained

Introduction

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

Transition editorial process
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

  1. Network news: created by editors on the Transition Network website: '...transitionnetwork.org/news/network/date/title'
  2. Community news: created by 'community microsite' users on the Transition Network website: '...transitionnetwork.org/news/community/date/title'
  3. 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

  1. Blog posts created by bloggers on the Transition Network website: '...transitionnetwork.org/blogs/username/date/title'
  2. 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/'. 

About the author
User picture

Ed is the Web and Communications Manager for Transition Network.

He lives in Dorchester, likes digging and climbing, growing vegetables and reading, bicycles and books, swimming, camping and generally being outdoors.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

A recommendation (well two actually...)

Hi Ed,

Not quite sure how things get drawn into the sharing engine if they aren't directly linked to the site - I'm assuming there's some sort of referal process: However it works I'm going to recommend two East Anglian blogs - one for the voice stream and one for news.

The first is run by Transition Norwich, or more specifically the Norwich Transition Circles - small groups of people working through many of the practical aspects of a low carbon, low consumption life whilst at the same time addressing inner changes and challenges through very open conversations and reflections:

This Low Carbon Life - The Norwich Transitioner's Blog: http://transitionnorwich.blogspot.com/

The second is a news blog run by and for Transition East our regional support group. Postings are less frequent.

Transition Circle East: http://transitioncircleeast.blogspot.com/

Probably the best contact for both is Charlotte Du Cann: theseakaleproject [ at ] hotmail.co.uk

Josiah

Ed Mitchell's picture

Thanks

Thanks Josiah,

we are already aggregating the Norwich blog in our 'community news' stream here: http://www.transitionnetwork.org/news/community - this is not yet much harped on about as it's in alpha trials and being discussed at the editorial steering group (seems to work great so far, but needs tidying)...

Content-wise I would say it is 'community news' rather than a 'voice' as it's related to initiative activities and ongoings around Norwich - 'voices' will be more about thought development and experiential work - but I'm happy to discuss.

Also happy to add Transition Circles East to the community news (?).

The process is (currently) that the feeds are added manually. It's a bit fiddly, but we wanted to trial it out and get an idea of the issues we will face before investing more time and energy (both very limited) into proceeding...

best,

Ed