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World Internet News Mission Statement

Dr. Fred Schiff | 06.03.2006 20:55 | Education | Indymedia | World

The following is the mission statement for an investigative/altenative, non-profit, convergent newsroom at the University of Houston that is looking for student reporters in the UK.

We are a news organization committed to telling the whole truth in context. Ours is a convergent newsroom, publishing online, on air and through cable. Our stories focus on issues, not just events.

We begin with the fundamental fact that the commercial news media routinely ignore or under-cover a wide range of issues, sources and points of view. Low income households, working people, ethnic minorities, union members, women, gays, the young, the disabled and foreign nationals are usually marginalized by corporate news values. Executives, officials, businessmen, politicians and experts are the typical sources and subjects of mainsrteam news -- as if they represented the public in an unbiased and objective way.

Our idea, then, is to create a non-profit news outlet that is better balanced. By being free from advertising and corporate sponsorship, we don't have to maintain a buying mood nor go soft on the rich and the powerful. Our idea is to produce the "other" side of the news that is not being done by commercial news outlets and publications. At the same time, we are committed to the highest standards of journalistic excellent. Quality journalism means being accurate, fair and balanced. It means showing compassion and telling the truth to the full extent that we know it.

Students and faculty from the School of Communication at the University of Houston did the stories and media critiques that are published here. Many of our pieces were broadcast on 30-minute "Not-For-Profit" News shows, produced for our non-profit radio and cable channel partners. We are working with KPFT 90.1-FM, which is a 100,000-watt, listener-sponsored Pacifica Network radio station, and with Houston Media Source, which operates WTP-TV Cable Channel 17.

We have additional goals. We seek to put news issues in historical and comparative context. In effect, we are trying to unify the two dominant knowledge-producing institutions of our times: the media and the universities -- by supplementing investigative reports with the expertise of social scientists and historians.

While the Internet holds great promise as an instrument for human betterment and universal enlightenment, it is quickly becoming commercialized and dominated by increasingly concentrated corporate interests. We seek to counterbalance this trend by producing content for the free side of the Internet and by creating a unique environment for the youth, self-educated adults and working intellectuals of the world to come together to report news and share ideas.

We want to focus on the unanswered structural questions of our times. We are convinced that the mega-cities around the world have similar issues and problems. Mega-cities like Houston, Buenos Aires and Chongqing act as industrial power centers in each nation-state and as intellectual poles of development in their regions. We seek to ascertain what their problems are and to look for social experiments where some successes have been found. We've taken the name, World Internet News, to reflect our intent to focus on the common issues and problems in the mega-cities of the world.

Starting in Houston, we are creating an online news network produced by reporters and editors from leading public universities around the globe. We seek to become a 24/7 non-profit news service and public forum that delivers text, audio, video and graphics for free over the Internet. We want to recruit investigative teams to consist of five to 10 students working under a faculty editor-publisher. We want a cooperative arrangement where reporters and editors continue to own what they produce and keep the copyrights to their work.

Potentially with 200 universities and 1,000 to 2,000 reporters spread out to every country on earth, the World Internet News group could expand news coverage well beyond the scope of commercial news services, which concentrate their super-bureaus in the industrialized G-8 countries. WiN will be closer to its sources and thicker on the ground than existing news agencies. By representing ordinary people in each country and region on the planet, WiN aims to establish its niche among online news services.

Dr. Fred Schiff
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  1. Interesting idea — Lynn Prince