I’ve wanted to work on a project to compile a daily representative update of all the world’s news. This update would include a single article from a single publication in each of the world’s 195 countries. This post details my thinking about such a project. What it might cost and how it might work. It also documents why the project hasn’t gotten beyond ideation stage with my efforts alone.
I’m interested in the topic of representative information. The media/news we consume today is not representative of our world. A typical media channel will have a mix of local and international news. International news is dominated by a small number countries. Often that coverage has limited direct impact on the lives of the people watching. Through the workings of globalized media incentives, somewhat random news is surfaced to the top.
I wonder if we prepared a representative daily news update organized randomly, alphabetically or in an order opposite to the assumptions of the reader, would it influence how that person sees the world in a positive way.
Editorial / Selection Rules
The single story selected for each country would meet basic editorial standards in this pilot/demo project.
- Written in English.
- Published in a recognized national publication of that country (i.e. no facebook posts).
- Nationally relevant political, economic, social, environmental topics (i.e. no sports, international reposting or hyper local news to a given city).
- Includes context/background (i.e. the article is researched and explained so a reader from another country could understand the context in general).
- Follow basic journalistic principles — i.e. no slander, cited sources, no derogatory/inflaming commentary.
Formatting / Update Guidelines
The daily news update itself would follow very basic formatting guidelines.
- The top of the page is a callout box on a single country Wikipedia page.
- The middle and bottom of the page is a table of the daily news links in the order decided on for the test.
- The table contains the country name, the title of the article as published on the source website and the hyperlink to the source article. Country | Title(link) | [Source](link).
- No summaries/rewrites or recaps of the articles. Only the title and link. This is not meant as a summary of the news but an encouragement for people to visit the source website and read the news.
If the first pilot goes well, these are some future enhancement ideas.
- Boxes next to each link with additional reference / context material specific to that country and topic.
- Tags and themes which group similar articles, countries, topics.
- Q/A functionality for people to ask questions about the countries/topics/news and interact with people in those countries about the topics.
- A way for people to participate in the editorial/selection process and/or give donations to support the project.
- Promotional content approaches to get more people involved.
Pilot Platform and Requirements
For simplicity of the pilot and making the delivery as straightforward as possible, this is the approach I’m considering.
- Medium blog/publication as a daily blog posting. Possible names like “a Slice of the World Today”.
- Maybe need to start with once per month, then increase to once per week, then once per day.
- Soft launching the pilot may require starting with once per month, then increase to once per week, then once per day.
- Assuming that selecting one article from a publication takes ~15 minutes, I would need 48 hours to select each day links. If I have 1 hour per week to spend on this project, I will need a group of ~10 freelancers who will select the articles and provide the draft text with links. Assuming each freelancer costs ~10 USD per hour.
- We can collaborate on the text within Medium or use another inbetween tool that can copy/paste/export to medium.
- Another freelancer who can check all of the links and verify that they are working. Approximately 1 hour per day at a rate of ~20 USD per hour.
- Likely would take one to three months to stabilize the editorial pipeline and quality.
- Total expected costs of ~500 USD per day in freelancers for the content if I want to do a daily version.
Given that selection of the articles could take up to 48 hours and I have 1 hour spare each week, I’m not even able to do this on a monthly basis. I’ll have to shelve this idea until I can raise funds to pay the freelancers or I’m able to identify/recruit a large network of volunteers.