Banyan Standards

The Banyan Project’s mentoring and support of independent community news co-ops will include setting and monitoring standards that will help them produce journalism that readers value and thus lead to co-op success.

We envision that the standards will be enforced three main ways:

  1) To gain use of the Banyan software platform, news co-ops will sign a license with Banyan that commits them to follow certain rules and procedures designed to help them uphold the value proposition that their reporting must be relevant to the lives of their readers, respectful of them as people, and worthy of their trust.

  2) Whenever journalists at any affiliated site go to post new information, the software will lead them through procedures designed to ensure that what makes it to the Web meets the standards. These include reminders to ensure that facts are verified for accuracy, and that tone reflects fairness and respect.  Banyan will provide affiliated co-ops with training that includes making best use of these software tools.

  3) The platform will enable readers to flag material they think is irrelevant, disrespectful or untrustworthy; editors will check out the complaints and, if needed, make corrections and work with journalists who veered from the value proposition. To monitor sites’ compliance with the license, Banyan will get copies of flagged material. It will work with co-ops whose content often veers from the value proposition to help them do better. Co-ops that persist may be put on notice that they are in danger of license revocation.

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The Banyan Project is a nonprofit organization founded from the thinking of 30 senior journalists, academics, Web developers, sociologists and researchers, business and financial strategists, and advocates for strengthening democracy brought together by Tom Stites. Members of this Board of Advisors are listed below; click on names to see bios.

Stites shaped Banyan's model as a fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He is now helping a committee of community leaders who are organizing Haverhill Matters, the nation's first community Web news co-op in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Read more about Banyan Project.