--View entire Photo-essay documenting resistance to the war in Philadelphia in the weeks leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
OpEdNews.com: An interview with Rob Kall
By Hans Bennett
Frustrated with the corporate media, Rob Kall started OpEdNews.com in 2003, “about two weeks before the Iraq War's shock and awe was started,” It has grown into a prominent news website, which provides a valuable news service, and a powerful medium for independent journalists to publish their work.
With OpEdNews, Kall creatively works to connect the growing media democracy movement to the latest internet resources like Google and Yahoo News, as well as social networks like MySpace. This provides an important platform for independent journalists and activists to self-publish and reach a larger readership, and Kall is actively recruiting new writers for the website. Check it out!
Hans Bennett: How do you think independent media can best be used as a tool for socio/political/economic change?
Rob Kall: 1) Getting out messages that the “lamestream” media won't publish, 2) Enabling the everyday citizen to have a voice, and 3) Providing media tools and online tools that enable discussion, debate, action
HB: How does your website put this into action?
RK: Anyone can submit articles, diaries, comments. We're one of the 4500 sites that Google and Yahoo News have approved as a legitimate media site, so when an article is accepted (usually by one of our 25 volunteer editors) it gets a very wide circulation. Some of our articles have made the top of the front page of Google News.
In terms of action, we enable any writer to create a customized action page for any article or diary which makes it easy for readers to actually take action, contacting their federal legislators or local daily paper.
We also support groups, so an organization or just a group of people with similar interests can start a group and post articles so they show on the group page. This adds capabilities that most non profit organizations don't have.
HB: Sort of a cross between a strictly controlled website and IMC open publishing, how does OpEdNews.com decide which articles to publish?
RK: To qualify as a legitimate media site, we must moderate articles. So if you submit an article, it will go into our article queue, to be evaluated by one of our volunteer editors. We see an average of 40 to 60 a day. But we also offer diaries, and there is no moderation on diaries. I think we're one of only a very few sites that do both.
Reasons not to publish include: Bad writing, nothing new said, old news, or commentary on a no longer fresh issue, and self promotion. Often, when readers send comments or news tips, we'll encourage them to turn their comments, observations or tips into articles. Also, part of our editorial policy is to consider every article submission as a diary submission too, so if a submission doesn't cut it as an article, it may well make it as a diary, where the criteria are not as strict.
We will soon be adding a third level of content-- OpEdNews Journal-- which will have higher criteria-- including peer review, requirement that it be more than just commentary, and should have data derived from investigative research. We hope to pull six or ten articles a week from the 300-400 we publish that meet the higher criteria. Our goal is "modest": to produce articles of the same or higher quality than the NY Times or Wall Street Journal.
HB: What other independent news organizations have most influenced your work?