Updated May 5, 2014
What is Select Media?
The Select Media program helps Allvoices showcase its top reports during a given news cycle, 24 hours a day. It is designed to reward the site’s best writers for strong efforts and encourage readers to keep checking back, day after day, to see what fresh perspectives are waiting to be discovered at Allvoices.
Because of the high-profile nature of Select Media, only the site’s top-tier writers can participate. In turn, Select Media reports earn higher pay rates for approved articles as well as more site-based promotion for those reports. Happy, well-served readers tell friends and relatives about Allvoices, and more readers make visiting Allvoices part of their online routine, inspiring the site’s writers to keep up the good work.
Participation in the Select Media program is open to Anchors, the highest of the three editorial rankings, and to Reporters and Stringers by invitation only. Anyone can sign up to write for Allvoices, but Anchors are writers Allvoices deems capable of consistently producing well-written, interesting reports exhibiting clarity, originality and focus. You can review the official criteria here.
Exceptional writers may be promoted to Anchor after just a few stories, but most writers who become Anchors do so by turning in at least 15 consistently well-written and properly resourced reports. Writers may be promoted from Stringer to Reporter before becoming Anchors, but once the upward trajectory has begun, Anchor status can generally be attained after 15 reports if the quality level of the writer’s articles remains high.
Upon becoming an Anchor, writers who choose to participate in the Select Media program do so knowing that a staff of professional copy editors will review their reports for things like spelling, grammar, clarity, accuracy and readability. In general, we defer to Associated Press style on matters related to the inevitable questions around hyphenation, capitalization, consensual spellings and more, but we do not change the essential tone or meaning of any report.
What to look for before submitting to Select Media
Ideally, because Allvoices relies on user-generated content, that content would be sparkling clean with nary a change to be made. But in reality, even professional writers with decades of experience under their belts make mistakes or write awkwardly at times. That’s why newspapers have copy editors and novelists use the acknowledgements page to thank the many people who read early drafts of their manuscripts.
This checklist will help Allvoices writers avoid common mistakes, which will improve their chances for getting stories approved for Select Media and, in turn, earning more money and exposure. Many of these steps will become second nature surprisingly fast, and eventually most writers will begin self-editing in a productive way as they write, avoiding some of the most common pitfalls that can slow the editorial process.
Checklist for submitting to Select Media
1. Proofread. Proofread from top to bottom before publishing. That includes headlines, which will serve as part of the published story’s URL. Pay special attention to the spelling of names and other proper nouns, dates, ease of reading and the accuracy of any quotes you may use. Make sure you have a pen and paper (or the virtual equivalent) nearby and jot down any questions or uncertainties you may have.
2. Verify. You can use another tab or browser to check on those issues before publishing. Is it Anne Romney or Ann Romney? Is it “The Rachel Maddow Show” or just “Rachel Maddow”? Are you sure “Bagdad” is correct, or could it be “Baghdad”? These are the kinds of things you can look up and fix simply by entering the term into a search engine and using reliable sites to answer your questions. If you know what you are looking for, these kinds of things are easy to fix. That’s why the first step, proofreading, is so important.
3. Check sources and length. Is all the writing really your own? Did you paste a block of text in for reference and forget to remove it? Did you attribute all excerpts and quotes and link back to relevant sources? Is the report at least 400 words long, the minimum for Select Media reports? Most Select Media submissions in excess of 1,000 words will not be considered for the program. Rare exceptions may be made, however, if little or no editing is required. Any notes or links added by Allvoices will not count toward the 1,000 words.
4. Scan. Did you make all the fixes you meant to make? Have you included everything you meant to include? Does anything “jump out” at you, even if you aren’t sure why? If so, it might be worth taking a closer look at what’s calling for your attention. Sometimes rearranging just a few words can make an otherwise awkward sentence or paragraph read a lot better.
5. Publish. If you feel comfortable with your report, publish it. After a short while, the steps described here will take you no more than 10 minutes. As more good writers begin submitting well-written reports to Allvoices, cleaner stories will have the advantage when it comes to Select Media approval and promotion by the site. If you strive to earn more and reach a larger audience, it pays to take the time to turn in the best story you possibly can, even if it slows you down a bit in the publishing process.
Additional Allvoices Writers’ Resources reports:
Getting quotes right crucial to quality reporting, Jan. 8, 2013
First references, titles and names, Dec. 5, 2012
How to handle excerpts, Nov. 30, 2012
Select Media guidelines help writers maintain high editorial standards, July 25, 2012
Ideas, topics and surfing the beat, May 31, 2012
When citing information from TV, specificity and accuracy are crucial, April 24, 2012
Better tags for better page views, Feb. 12, 2012
5 tips for American Pundit writers, Jan. 20, 2012
Commenting on other reports builds community, leads to additional interest in your work, Dec. 31, 2011
Linking to sources improves reliability of your reports, Nov. 30, 2011
Write better headlines, get more readers for your reports, Nov. 22, 2011