Starting an openDemocracy Section or Project
openDemocracy is open and flexible and now allows funded sections to join our platform easily and quickly.
openDemocracy oD’s architecture encourages the creation of self-funded editorially independent sections, or specific time-bound projects, that share its core principles - openness, democracy, human-rights; adopt its editorial approach - attractive and honest writing that debates the issues and engages with the arguments of our time; and enhance its mix of coverage.
Once a Section or Project is agreed with openDemocracy’s publisher and Editor-in- Chief its editors have the right to publish and manage content as they decide including the creation of their own sub-sections or debate pages and have control over the expenditure of their funds.
(Only if exceptional issues arise of legal, moral or intellectual standing that threaten the economic future or editorial integrity of openDemocracy as a whole does the Publisher or Editor-in-Chief have the right to remove content from a Section without the agreement of its editors. This power has not, so far, been exercised.)
Publishing relationship to openDemocracy
Section editors have the right to post content into the date ordered front page of openDemocracy. They exercise their judgment as to whether a post or contribution is too specialised to deserve this. The openDemocracy front page editor decides whether or not to bring an article up into the top of the front page, enhancing readership. Section editors are at liberty to lobby for this and signal in advance when important pieces are coming.
Sections need a defining theme. The best focus on a broad issue around which a community or network of readers crystallises. For example: oDRussia is concerned with protecting a democratic culture in the countries of the ex-Soviet Union; 50:50 is concerned with furthering gender equality and strengthening the position and influence of women internationally; OurKingdom addresses what it calls “the deep crisis of democracy in Britain”. These broad themes can develop more focused debate pages. Projects obviously will have a specific focus.
A Section needs to say what it is in its ‘About’ page (which accumulate a large number of curious and interested readers) and provide supporting material, such as a longer history of the issue, a list of Section contributors, its call for collaboration. Sections also have their own social media presence that they manage.
Each Section needs a short name and strap line to fit on the oD front page.
Form and frequency
We carry a range of content forms, from articles, essays and short posts, to video, pdfs and dossiers, telephone interviews and photo-essays. We encourage experiments with form. Each Section has its own front page with promoted articles, in addition to the running blog listing its posts (which appear equal sized in the section's front page, preferably with a picture, in the order in which they are published, and stand alone with their own unique url when clicked on).
There are three rules of thumb in starting an editorial Section concerning regularity, variety and links.
• To build influence on the web regular publication is essential and
a Section needs something fresh on it most days, ideally at least one new post
all five working days
• It is good to combine longer essays of 2,000 – 5,000 words (which can be visually tagged as such) with short posts. Both can generate large readerships
• It is good to link to other material on the web, to engage, highlight and respond to it, participating in the larger online conversation. The more you link outwards to others, the more people come to read you.
A Section needs a technically competent editor or publishing assistant working every day for at least two or three hours. Publishing is always more complicated than you think, involving liaising with authors, pictures, social networking, other marketing, reading and occasionally responding to comments, bits of html needed here and there, as well as responding to submissions, rejecting or accepting unsolicited content, editing for style, sense and accessibility and writing presentation material such as headlines and the short intro or standfirst, as well as publicising and liaising with others.
Ideally a Section will have one or more experienced editors leading its coverage working with one or more young colleagues. How authority is managed in this team is up to the Section editors.
Personnel relationship to openDemocracy
Section and Project editors are welcome to attend weekly liaison meetings at our London offices, in person or virtually. There are regular monthly editorial meetings to which Section editors are invited. The oD editor and Editor-in-Chief should, ideally, attend a section’s own editorial meetings but this is a matter for the Section editors. A Section is encouraged to provide an openDemocracy front-page editor on occasions so that it gains a direct understanding of the way the whole site works.
openDemocracy undertakes to manage the publishing platform hosting the Section pages or Project on the openDemocracy.net site and its various site-wide functions, comment sections, integration with social media such as email lists, facebook and twitter. The oD team maintains and updates these features. It feeds all content into its facebook, twitter and media publicity and boosts content and authors Google rankings. It provides human and editorial support and encourages cross-posting between sections.
openDemocracy provide sections and projects with the ability to raise charitable funding. openDemocracy Ltd provides financial controls and bookkeeping and manages Section and Project accounts and provides a monthly balance to Section and Project editors who are in full control over and responsibility for their spending.
Section editors do their own fundraising and come to their agreement with funders, with the oD publisher and Editor-in-Chief having complete access to any such agreements. Funders legally contract with openDemocracy Ltd, a UK registered company or with openDemocracy USA Inc, a 501c3 company. We are also supported by a UK registered charity, The Open Trust, which has an openDemocracy programme.
As well as ideas for new sections we're interested in exploring other partnership opportunities. See this page on how to become an editorial partner of openDemocracy to read about partnering with us for conferences, events and hosted debates.
For more information about become an openDemocracy partner please contact our Publishing Manager, Andrew Hyde at firstname.lastname@example.org