What is NewsWorks?
NewsWorks is a digital platform (on Web and social media) for covering news and fostering dialogue across the Delaware Valley, from Princeton, N.J. to Dover, Del. It showcases journalism by the WHYY news team, as well as a growing network of content partners and a corps of community correspondents. It offers serious, multimedia coverage of:
It provides balanced journalism that is as interested in solutions and heroes as problems and scandals. NewsWorks is transparent and participatory, continually seeking engagement, feedback and viewpoints from its audience. Every day, it offers dozens of invitations and opportunities for readers to offer their own viewpoints, tips, photos and videos. And it seeks to be an oasis for civil, informed dialogue.
What happened to WHYY.org?
It's still around. You can still rely on it for program information about WHYY's three television channels, and for 90.9 FM, as well as WHYY's array of cultural and educational activities.
What is "NewsWorks Tonight"?
NewsWorks Tonight is nightly on-air regional newsmagazine aired on WHYY-FM at 6 p.m. each weeknight. The half-hour show, hosted by Dave Heller, presents breaking news, interviews, and enterprise reporting by the NewsWorks team, including both WHYY staff and NewsWorks' content partners.
Why create a new Web site and brand, instead of revamping the old one?
Great question; we struggled with this one. NewsWorks represents a major expansion of WHYY's news operation, as we try to fill gaps left by other traditional media sources. The old Web site had many missions to perform, and something always seemed to get short shrift. NewsWorks gives WHYY's expanded news operation the kind of showcase it needs.
Also, NewsWorks is not just about WHYY's journalism; it's also a second home for the many new media and traditional media outlets that have decided to become part of the NewsWorks information network.
Philadelphia already has Philly.com. It drives me crazy sometimes, but it has tons of information. What's different about NewsWorks?
No doubt, Philly.com offers a lot of great journalism every day - if you can find it. NewsWorks aims to offer serious news consumers a clean site, free of pop-ups and other distractions, where the news they seek is easy to find. And NewsWorks will try to uphold public media's tradition of trustworthy, insightful story-telling - the kind of work you've come to expect from programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, PBS News Hour, and This American Life. Drawing upon WHYY's experience in TV and radio, NewsWorks offers multimedia stories that take advantage of all the Web can do: video, audio, slide shows, maps, animation as well as text. And, oh, yeah, we can promise you this: You will never see "lingerie football" on NewsWorks.
You say NewsWorks is participatory. How can I participate?
In many ways. Every news story or package by a WHYY staffer includes an "Ask a Question" button for you to click to pose follow-up questions, which we'll try to answer.
Every story offers an opportunity for you to rate the story, comment on it, and to rate others' comments. (Rating others' comments is a great way to keep NewsWorks a civil space.)
But those reactive opportunities are just the beginning of participation in NewsWorks. Every day, the news staff produces an interactive news blog called The Feed, lifting the lid off the WHYY news operation, letting you know what stories we're chasing and asking for your input in helping us cover the news more effectively. The Feed includes dozens of opportunities for you to offer what you know, propose questions, send in tips, photos and ideas.
Then, to complete the participatory menu, there's Speak Easy. ...
OK, so what's Speak Easy? Does it involve bathtub gin?
Speak Easy is our new participatory blog, which aims to be a crossroads where all of NewsWorks' participatory aspects converge. It's run by Eric Walter, who each day will scan conversations occuring on NewsWorks, on other sites and on our social media streams to pick the most interesting comments to feature on Speak Easy, along with various prompts and invitations to participate.
Speak Easy replaces Sixth Square, our first attempt at this kind of participatory area. Sixth Square had some problems, frankly, both in terms of how it functioned and its weak connection to social media. So, we've kept the same participatory aspirations, but revamped the approach and relaunched it as Speak Easy.
What can I do on Speak Easy?
Submit an essay: EssayWorks is a forum for thoughtful citizens to comment on issues, ideas and life. Each essay is an invitation to a public discussion. Submit your essay, and we'll edit it for possible publication on the site.
Create a MindMap: Show and tell, and learn about other NewsWorks users. A MindMap is a profile of what a person reads, watches or listens to to feed their mind and navigate life. Register on NewsWorks to submit your own MindMap.
Submit a list: Everyone loves a list. Top 10 movies filmed in Philadelphia. Cleanest public restrooms down the Shore. Propose one to us if you know a topic well. Critique, add to, or suggest replacements for an existing list.
Asked & Answered: Confused by a NewsWorks story? Think we missed something? Ask us a question about coverage on this site, and we'll do our best to get you an answer.
Sleuth: Is there a local mystery you can help solve? Care to explain one of the many quirks of life in and around Philadelphia. Maybe you have a question for us? We could do our best Sherlock Holmes impersonation—but it's probably more useful if we just answer your questions.
Give props: Props is a chance to be upbeat, generous and kind. Give a shout out to somebody who did something you think deserves praise and notice. It can be directed toward someone famous, someone in the news, or someone who lives down the street.
Sixes: From time to time we'll challenge you to sum up a news event or issue in six words or less.
What the heck is "Junto"?
Benjamin Franklin started a club of merchants and craftsmen in Philadelphia called the Junto ("juhn-toh.") in order to exchange knowledge and debate questions of morals, politics and philosophy. Articles labeled "Junto" are meant to provoke a similar spirit of investigative curiosity.
I've heard NewsWorks is a "hyperlocal" site. What does that mean?
"Hyperlocal" is a buzzword of the moment in Web journalism. It simply means good, old-fashioned community journalism transplanted online. NewsWorks is a news site for the whole region, but it also features an experiment in on-line community journalism. This "hyperlocal" package focuses on the neighborhoods of Northwest Philadelphia: Roxborough, Manayunk, East Falls, Germantown, West Oak Lane, Mount Airy, Chestnut Hill and the others. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the quasi-governmental agency that funds PBS, NPR etc., picked WHYY to run a pilot project in hyperlocal journalism. The idea is to test whether public media can step into the local news vacuum left by the decline and disappearance of metro and community newspapers.
Why Northwest Philadelphia, and not my neighborhood or township?
We had to start somewhere. Northwest Philadelphia provides a diverse mix of populous neighborhoods with a rich civic life. If things go well with this experiment, we hope to expand the NewsWorks community coverage approach into the suburbs and other parts of the city. Some neighborhoods already have promising hyperlocal sites serving them; our approach will be to partner with such sites to bolster both our efforts, rather than to compete head-to-head. Such competition strikes us as a waste of precious resources.
My community deserves the same kind of attentive coverage you're describing. How do I nominate my town or neighborhood as a NewsWorks hyperlocal zone?
It looks as though there are advertisements on NewsWorks? I thought public media were supposed to be commercial-free?
Federal Communications Commission rules do sharply limit the frequency and nature of what's called "underwriting" on public television and radio. But these FCC rules do not apply to the Web. That said, NewsWorks will carry the public media approach to advertising (limited, tasteful, non-obtrusive) onto the Web. On NewsWorks, you won't see ads dancing elusively across your screen, obscuring the content you really want to see. Ads won't begin blaring audio or video at you whether you want them or not. On the plus side, you may see notices from local businesses that can't afford to advertise with regional, mainstream media.
So, besides ads, where will the money for NewsWorks come from?
Sharp question. You know, it's ironic. As newspapers and other traditional news outlets struggle in this tough, new economy, learned panels have been convened to try to figure out a new revenue model to support serious, quality journalism. Most conclude that the smart approach would be a nonprofit model that got revenue not only from advertising, but from foundations, major donors and tax-deductible memberships. In other words, precisely the model that has supported public broadcasting for decades. As public broadcasting morphs into public media, including the Web, we plan to carry that model over to NewsWorks. There's one wrinkle, though: Research suggests younger, Web-oriented news consumers don't relate very well to the idea of an annual membership. If you're one of those people, we've set up ways for your to donate small amounts episodically. To see how, just click the yellow bar at the bottom of every story on NewsWorks.
You can click here to see a list of the foundations and major donors supporting NewsWorks.
You've mentioned community partners will provide content to NewsWorks. Who are they?
We're always looking for and adding new ones. To see the latest list, check out the Content Partners tab on the About Us page, or look at the black box on the bottom of every page on NewsWorks.
What is this Ben Bucks and Ben's Ladder business all about?
They are NewsWorks' way of rewarding people for using the site and making it better through their participation. You earn Ben Bucks, a virtual reward, every time you log onto NewsWorks, read stories, comment or contribute content. As you earn more points, you move up Ben's Ladder to new rungs, each named after a phase of Ben Franklin's life. At each rung, you get more privileges on the site. For more on Ben Bucks and Ben's Ladder, click on the Ben Bucks/Ladder tab on the About Us page.