Collective Blog

The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Maintained by the staff of the PeoplesNetWorks collective and The NewStandard.

April 27, 2007

TNS on Uprising Radio

TNS co-founder Brian Dominick appeared on a short segment of KPFK LA's Uprising Radio show with Sonali Kolhatkar to mark our last day of publishing. Uprising is one of the few alternative media oultets that offered unconditional support and appreciation to TNS over the years. You can listen to the segment here.

Berkeley Students Raise Voices on BP Ties

Although UC-Berkeley's Academic Senate opted last week to skirt the issue of corporate research funding -- voting down resolutions that would have imposed strong oversight on the management of the new BP-sponsored Energy Biosciences Institute -- students have been more active about confronting questions of scientific integrity. The Senate of the Associated Students of the University of California, representing the UC Berkeley student body, passed a resolution on Thursday, April 26, raising major concerns about the university's partnership with BP.

» Continue reading "Berkeley Students Raise Voices on BP Ties"

April 19, 2007

Meet TNS Cartoonists at Bay Area Event

If there's any chance you might be in San Francisco on April 21-22, you must hit the Alternative Press Expo, if for no other reason than to meet members of the Cartoonists With Attitude group. You already know several of them as most of TNS's regular cartoon contributors: Matt Bors, Mikhaela Reid, Keith Knight and Stephanie McMillan. I can't think of any group of people I'd rather hang with, or any place I'd rather be this weekend, so YOU need to go drop in on their table -- and tell them The NewStandard sent you.

» Continue reading "Meet TNS Cartoonists at Bay Area Event"

April 13, 2007

Clearing Up Murky Data on Toxics

In case you were sitting with your nose to the monitor all afternoon yesterday waiting for your daily fix of TNS original news coverage… so were we. Sorry about that.

We originally had a story ready to go on the Environmental Working Group’s analysis of "hidden" toxic waste in California under a new set of EPA reporting regulations. But we ended up changing our story – both our coverage of it and the subject matter itself – upon realizing that the EWG’s report contained a serious data error. Their original estimates were based on an earlier version of the EPA’s new Toxics Release Inventory reporting regulations.

» Continue reading "Clearing Up Murky Data on Toxics"

April 11, 2007

The Times Falls Short on Florida Felons

We’re not the only news outlet to take a look at Florida’s new clemency policies for people with felony convictions, but we’ve noticed the competition might have overlooked a few things in rushing to get the story out last week.

This article by the New York Times, "In a Break From the Past, Florida Will Let Felons Vote," misstates a statistic on disenfranchised felons in Florida. The reporter writes that the "vast majority" of disenfranchised Floridians are black. Not true, according to the most reliable studies on this issue. They are disproportionately black, but the actual number of blacks officially barred from voting under the felon-disenfranchisement policies do not constitute a majority of the state’s disenfranchised population – more like a third. Next time they try to highlight racial inequality in the system, the Times should take care to avoid enforcing stereotypes about black criminality.

» Continue reading "The Times Falls Short on Florida Felons"

April 5, 2007

More on the Teamsters vs. Mexican Truck(er)s Hubbub

The Teamsters and their allies continue to attempt to smear The NewStandard’s reporting. Here we present a follow-up letter by union press secretary Galen Munroe, then a response from TNS staff.

» Continue reading "More on the Teamsters vs. Mexican Truck(er)s Hubbub"

March 30, 2007

Perspectives, agendas and borders

Shortly after our article on the NAFTA Mexican trucking program ran, I received a stern warning from the communications team at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. I was informed by their media coordinator during a phone call that the article had basically foreclosed any possibilities of future interviews with the Teamsters. He told me that the phone call was to give us advanced notice of an official response to our story, and in the meantime, we were encouraged to reconsider the headline – the main part of the story to which they objected.

They were very concerned, they said, that the word " ‘Racism’ " in the title of the article unfairly implied that the opposition to the trucking program was, well, racist. This despite our tactful flanking of the term in quotation marks, and the fact that it was drawn from a quoted source in the body of our story.

» Continue reading "Perspectives, agendas and borders"

March 22, 2007

The All-New Daily Dispatch

We've spent months working to revamp the Daily Dispatch mailing that goes out to all Basic and Premium Members of The NewStandard/PeoplesNetworks. And there's still LOTS more in the works. But for now, the major changes include:

  1. All-new coding that makes the display more-readable even in Webmail interfaces, and actually reduces the overall size of the file we send out each day.
  2. Inclusion of more features already implemented on the Web version of TNS, such as our "Extra" column and our videos. (We'll be adding new elements in the near future.)
  3. What you don't see is that this new version is much easier for us to compile each day.

But that's really just the beginning (and the hard part). In coming weeks and months, we'll be adding lots, allowing you to:

  1. browse archives of the Daily Dispatch, in case you miss a mailing or want to be able to
  2. send any mailing to a list of recipients by email, with a pesonalized message (and you'll be able to save your friends list online, so you don't have to type out their emails each time!)
  3. customize the content in your Dispatch (Premium Members only). Just want links instead of complete ION bulletins? Want a table of contents at the top so you don't have to scroll all the way? These and other tweaks will be clicks away for all who contribute to TNS.

We are ALWAYS interested in your feedback and ideas regarding the Daily Dispatch. Please send all comments to support (at) newstandardnews (dot) net

If you aren't already receiving the Daily Dispatch, now is the time to sign up!

March 20, 2007

'The Rest of Us'

Note: This entry was originally posted under the byline Brian Dominick accidentally. Jessica Azulay wrote it.

I was reading this report (pdf) on low-wage work in the United States put out by the think tank, Inclusion, when all of a sudden, a sentence stopped me:

"Some 44 million workers â€“ about one out of every three â€“ held low-wage jobs paying much less than the rest of us are paid."

The "rest of us."

I had been reading along, very interested to know that as someone who makes less than $11 an hour, that I was part of a much larger segment of the US workforce than I had realized. Then, all at once, I felt excluded – and by a think tank that calls itself "Inclusion."

» Continue reading "'The Rest of Us'"

March 19, 2007

Putting 'fair trade' principles to work

Our article on progressive responses to the prevailing free-trade agenda concluded with a note of uncertainty: a workable alternative has yet to emerge in the debate over US trade policy. At least not in official arenas.

But we did come across efforts outside the Beltway to move toward a more sustainable trade model, showing that the fair-trade system may be bearing fruit on a grassroots level. Though it has yet to boom on a global scale, we thought our readers might appreciate a glimpse (or a second-look, if you’re already a fair-trade consumer) into this ripening side-story.

» Continue reading "Putting 'fair trade' principles to work"

March 18, 2007

Vote for a TNS bumper sticker slogan

The TNS collective has been batting around slogans for a bumper sticker, and we would appreciate your input. Below are the four slogans we're considering. Please let us know which one you might stick on your car. Or if you have a suggestion of your own, we're all ears!







March 12, 2007

Generate buzz for TNS

Want to help promote TNS? Join the BuzzTeam to help spread the word about TNS.

We're trying to build our readership base in order to keep growing. But with only so many hours in the day, and such a small staff, we have to rely on volunteers to help with promotion. That's where our BuzzTeam comes in.

BuzzTeam members do what the name implies -- generate buzz about TNS. We rely on the BuzzTeam to help promote us in unique and creative ways. 

With so much ground to cover, we could really use some more people who want to get vocal about why they choose to read The NewStandard.

Can you lend us a hand? If so, please contact Megan at:

buzzteam411 at newstandardnews dot net

February 28, 2007

More Last-Minute Disclosures

Since TNS reported last week on the late flow of money from big retailers to aldermen opposed to Chicago's living-wage law, corporate donors have added almost $60,000 in campaign funds for Tuesday's City Council election.

Wal-Mart sent another $50,000 into the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce's pockets the day before voters went to the polls. The Chamber took over the lead in doling out corporate cash from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. IRMA threw in only $5,000 more to a candidate who voted against last summer's living-wage bill, while the Chamber split $51,500 between seven incumbents and a challenger since Thursday.

The Chamber also gave $3,500 to supporters of the living-wage bill.

All told, Wal-Mart and Target channeled $130,000 to the two trade groups in the two weeks before the election, and those groups spent at least $170,000 on friendly aldermen since January. More disclosures are likely because candidates have two business days to report contributions, and some incumbents have been slow to report the corporate cash.

T-Shirt Contest Winner

Congratulations to Lantz Powell, the winner of our first TNS T-shirt contest.

Entry by Lantz Powell
[click image to enlarge]

And a huge thank you to all of the designers for participating and to our readers for helping decide the winner.

We know you want to get your hands on an exclusive TNS T-shirt, so we’ll let you know soon how you can.

February 22, 2007

TNS Reflects on Sick Day Policy

Given the article we published this week documenting the millions of Americans who work without paid sick days, we could not help but reflect on our situation at TNS. One of the many advantages of being a collectively-run organization is that we at TNS can craft policies that are as worker-friendly as possible. When it came to devising our sick policy, rather than turning to a boss to set the rules, we were able to ask ourselves what we needed and then figure out a way to make that work within the constraints of our organization.

In discussing our paid sick day policy, we found that some advocacy groups were calling for seven sick days per year. We decided to follow suit, but added a twist of our own.

» Continue reading "TNS Reflects on Sick Day Policy "

February 21, 2007

Weigh in on TNS T-Shirt Contest

Don't get stuck with a T-shirt you'll never wear. Weigh in today on your favorite T-shirt design so you can sport the NewStandard name in style.

Simply give us your feedback by posting a comment below. Please be respectful of these artists, who have graciously volunteered their talents and effort for this competition.

The TNS collective will weigh your input and post the final results shortly. High-quality screen-printed shirts will be made available to members later this year.

Our whole staff thanks each artist for making this a truly difficult decision.

Just click each image to see a larger version.


» Continue reading "Weigh in on TNS T-Shirt Contest"

February 15, 2007

Legislation Pains

Scouring legislation when reporting on a new bill seems like a corner post of journalistic practice. Obtaining these bills before they become available online, however, can be ridiculously difficult and frustrating.

The press offices of various lawmakers always seem surprised and a little put off when I decline the press release they want to feed me about a new bill instead of the actual bill itself. They often act as if just finding the bill and attaching it to an email is burdensome – and may take hours. And often, it does.

The impression that requesting legislation from lawmakers is a rare occurrence leads us to ask: aren’t other reporters reading bills before they report on them? Or are they simply regurgitating press releases? And if no one in the office can find a piece of legislation quickly, what are the members of Congress going on when they vote?

February 14, 2007

Through the Cracks: Endangered Whale Protection

It never gets any easier to kill a story idea because TNS just doesn’t have enough staff – there’s only five us steering this ship – to cover everything that deserves attention. Here’s another story that goes to the graveyard without a TNS investigation:

This week, the Humane Society of the United States and the Ocean Conservancy filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service "for failing to protect three endangered whale species: right whales, humpbacks and fin whales."

» Continue reading "Through the Cracks: Endangered Whale Protection "

February 13, 2007

Corporate Media Tramples Own Sourcing Rules on Iran Claims

The leading US-based news organizations – the New York Times and the Associated Press – violated their respective sourcing policies (and any semblance of reason) in reporting on US claims of "evidence" that Iranian officials are behind attacks on US forces in Iraq. In fact, most major outlets shoved their own policies aside like crazed shoppers on Black Friday, rushing to be first to report unsubstantiated, anonymously sourced allegations that put the US further on a war footing with Iran.

Neither the AP nor the Times explained to their readers – as is policy at both corporations – why the three anonymous sources who presented a highly orchestrated press briefing on Sunday insisted on and were granted anonymity. Here are the relevant rules:

We must explain in the story why the source requested anonymity. And, when it's relevant, we must describe the source's motive for disclosing the information.
–From the "AP statement on anonymous sources"

Whenever anonymity is granted, it should be the subject of energetic negotiation to arrive at phrasing that will tell the reader as much as possible about the placement and motivation of the source...
–New York Times policy on confidential news sources

» Continue reading "Corporate Media Tramples Own Sourcing Rules on Iran Claims"

February 12, 2007

Discuss: Is Impeachment Worth It?

Some say that the odds of convincing Congress to pursue impeachment are so slim that the focus should be on more pressing issues, such as pulling US troops out of Iraq. Sanford Levinson said impeachment advocates "are in effect supporting a strategy doomed not only to fail but also to be perceived by most of the country as a dangerous distraction from the pressing problems facing the country."

But others say impeachment is key. Elizabeth de la Vega, a prosecutor who wrote United States v. George W. Bush et al, which presents evidence incriminating the president to a hypothetical grand jury, said not pursuing impeachment is like "painting your kitchen when you have a tornado coming through the house."

We want to know what you think. Are After Downing Street and ImpeachPAC wasting their resources? Should activists push for impeachment, or are we all better off if they work on other issues they care about, like the Iraq war or poverty?

Activists and lawyers admitted that winning over Congress members is an uphill battle. What do you think they would need to do get Congress to change their minds? And is it worth it?

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.