Frequently Asked Questions | The Urban Twist

Frequently Asked Questions

NowPublic is a multimedia online news magazine where you can make, break, shape, and share international news as it happens. NowPublic offers its 5 million monthly readers a unique hybrid of content, context and conversation. Articles on the trending issues of the day are written and assembled by contributors who provide relevant background, photos, videos and Tweets needed to understand and join the digital dialogue. NowPublic’s reporters file stories from 6,000 cities in 160 countries – eyewitness accounts, expertise, and facts with the scope needed to make sense of them.

Unlike traditional news organizations, NowPublic enables you to participate in the news-making process. Whether you’re interested in being an on-the-scene reporter, a newshound, photographer, or videographer, we’re happy to hear from you and show you the ropes. Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions we field on any given news day, in case they’re on your mind as well. If you can’t find what you’re looking for Contact Us and we’ll get back to you.

Q: What characteristics define a typical NowPublic contributor?
A: At NowPublic we recognize the most unique contributions come from overlooked people and places, so we let your work speak for itself, but typical NowPublic posters are:

  • subject experts who want to share info in their off time with the layperson;
  • stay-at-home or retired professionals who are still in the knowledge loop;
  • Web-savvy J-school students looking to translate education to audience;
  • proficient, niche hobbyists with experience that bears on current events;
  • fan community “buzz builders” who know their popular culture;
  • print journalists who are looking to retrain for the Web;
  • YouTube or other video site high-performers/posters;
  • Flickr or other photographers with skills sourcing the best photos;
  • social networking conversationalists, trend-spotters and setters.
Q: Do I need to fill out an application or become a member to post?
A: When was the last time you were really honest on an application? That’s what we thought. These can take a lot of time to process and in the end the proof of your abilities is in the post, so we’ll judge it rather than your resume. Ideally, your work demonstrates you know how to write a great lede, your facts are straight, you get our attention, we trust your credentials and you answer the key questions readers are asking. Hopefully you’ve got good sources, photo or video too, but we’ll keep you honest don’t you worry. You do need to create an account with us in order to post your own story or collaborate on others, and to add your photos and videos. We don’t just want to make you accountable, we also want to give you credit 😉 Sign up for an account now and try it!.

Q: What kind of stories are you looking for?
A: Our founder said, “Tell me something new about something I care about.” News should be timely (the last 72 hours), meaningful to a significant number of people, unusual, interesting and have significant repercussions. Does your story affect a lot of people or a limited few? Does it have emotional appeal? Is it about a well-known public figure? It is local, national or international? Read this for a more comprehensive overview of our news values, journalism tips and reporter ethics, but in the meantime what we’re looking for is:

  • authentic and tightly-focused pieces that tell a relevant story
  • news that offers concrete information of wide interest
  • research in context that it is well-balanced, objective, and specific
  • content that adds something to the public discussion rather than recycled ideas
  • facts citing solid and verifiable sources rather than opinion
  • 250-600 words that the world both needs and wants.


Q: What kind of content is verbotten?
A: Like the rest of the Internet, we hate getting spammed – blatant sales pitches for products or services – and we promise you these posts will be caught in our voracious filter whether by bots or humans. We also want to avoid material that appears identically elsewhere – give it a new spin or angle so it is substantially changed for our audience. Though press releases often contain good info, we’d prefer you supplement the content with photos, video, and your own related examples so it has less agenda and more relevance. We do like reviews, interviews, profiles, breaking stories and exposes, so bring them on. Here’s a list of article types that don’t belong on NowPublic:

  • fiction, poetry, or creative writing of any sort (we like to read it, but on a different site);
  • material that isn’t relevant to a current, recent or ongoing story;
  • stories that explicitly plagiarize or copy from someone else’s work without citing it;
  • pure opinion, political or religious rants, and soapbox speeches
  • libelous, slanderous or abusive statements or attacks
  • stories that clearly present a conflict of interest for the contributor
  • articles making untrue or highly-exaggerated claims
  • a syndicated press release republished wholesale rather than quoted
  • advice, how-to or “evergreen” material that has no timely hook.


Q: I have a story to report, but need some help. What should a story look like to pass muster?
A: We’re so glad you asked. Here’s a quick Top 10 list of best practices at a glance. Remember articles should be written from the 3rd-person point of view, should be objective, balanced, and clear for a layperson. Now that you’ve focused what you want to say, in an ideal world, you’d do the following:

  1. Identify the keyword phrase you’d enter into a search engine to find the timely and newsworthy article you’re about to post.
  2. Check if that phrase is attracting traffic by entering it into Google TrendsInsightsNewsonrails or Surcher. Reconfigure accordingly.
  3. Use this phrase in your headline – 65 characters max- and make sure it names names and is in title case (capitalize nouns and verbs)
  4. Once you’re ready to write, get to the point in the first paragraph with a strong 50-word lede – who, what, when, where, why and maybe even how.
  5. Insure copy is factually correct and build the story from most to least important information -250-word minimum, 600-word max.
  6. Link to 3 credible sources using our highlight tool to quote them directly. NowPublic has zero tolerance for plagiarism.
  7. Format using 50-word paragraphs, bold keyworded subheadings, and bulleted or numbered lists for easy reading.
  8. Link to your or other related onsite articles with keyword anchor text – no exposed urls.
  9. Proofread, and then attach a clear, appropriate photo or video you have permission to use from your desktop or from Flickr, YouTube or our library.
  10. Give the article 6 navigational tags, emphasizing proper names and your target 2-3-word keyword phrase.


Q: Does my story go live once I hit Publish?
A: If you’re a newbie and you’ve never posted a story before, we want to make sure we’re a good fit for each other so for your first post only our spam-busters will give it a once over and sniff out pure self-promotion, business pitches, offensive rants, and all other forms of anti-posts. Chances are you are legit and will just need a bit of help to get the largest audience and reward for your work, so we’ll give you some hints to make it so. Once you’ve got your first post under your belt, subsequent posts will go live and we’ll advise after the fact.

Q: If I’m asked to edit, or think of something to add, can I update my post easily?
A: Every hour of every day, something is happening around the world that people want to know about. These stories are the heart of NowPublic’s ‘show me something new about something I care about’ journalism credo. They’re the original stories that capture our attention, and most stories don’t abruptly end, they trickle so do update your post or create a new story and link to the first one as related background. If you’ve learned some new tricks or stumbled across the perfect photo, video, or quote, don’t hesitate to click on the “edit” tab and put on some finishing touches.

Q: Do I have to meet a quota or promise to write for you exclusively?
A: Nobody writes well with a gun to her back and the world has enough deadlines already, so we figure we’ll make the posting process so addictive and easy that you won’t be able to tear yourself away. Likewise, we know you’ve got a lot to say and as a freelancer you have to mix up your clients and audiences to get the word out. Hey, it’s a free world, so we don’t demand you’re exclusive, because we’re confident that NowPublic will soon rank higher than those other sites and we’ll get the traffic. The only catch is that you have to abide by your existing contracts elsewhere – you answer to your own conscience.

Q: Can I republish work I own that was published in print if it’s still newsworthy or timely again?
A: Sure, as long as the articles scan easily for a reader on the Web (who tends to like things short – 250-600 words – and easy on the eyes) and the print publisher doesn’t still own the electronic online rights. News is cyclical and sometimes something you’ve written is suddenly relevant and searched again in light of a new incident, vote, law, scandal or crisis. This kind of backgrounder helps us put news in context, and that has to make everyone smarter, no?

Q: Do I hold onto my copyright? What rights am I granting you?
A: You bet, always and absolutely copyright stays with the writer. But this leads me to another point – use your full, actual, legal name and not a username or pen name if you want to protect copyright. We want to look legit and a story about Global Warming written by wetbehindtheears is not going to win you any Pulitzers right? You grant us non-exclusive electronic rights indefinitely so we can post the material on our site forever, but it doesn’t prevent you from posting it elsewhere if you must.

Q: What should I put in my NowPublic profile?
A: We’re proud of NowPublic’s contributors and want a click from your byline to showcase your qualifications and industry and subject-specific experience, the names of publications you’ve written for, years you’ve worked in the field, and career credentials. In your profile, we encourage you to link directly to your other relevant areas of specialty on the Web where your work is for view. This is no time to hide your light under a barrel – tell us everything you’ve published – ok maybe top 5 – brag about awards, contests you’ve won, boards you sit on, relevant work experience (with regard to what you’re writing about) and anything else that polishes your pedigree. Boast about what makes you the expert worth trusting above and beyond the mass of other impostors (too harsh?). Don’t discuss private details – your marital status, names of children, where you live, secret dreams and ambitions – this is Facebook material and while we know you have a life outside the site, we’re more interested in your career profile than your social one. Think of this page as a version of LinkedIn for freelance journalists of every stripe.

Q: What if I just want to add a photo or video to someone else’s story?
A: More hands make lighter work, so if you find a story on NowPublic that you’d like to add photos and videos to, the upload process goes something like this:

  1. From the story page, click Upload Your Photos and Videos link.
  2. Click Choose Media Files and select what you’d like to upload from your computer (up to a maximum of 50MB). Click Upload and the progress bar will indicate what percentage of your files have been uploaded.
  3. Enter a keyword-friendly Title, assign it to one of our main Channels, Tag it using specific keyword phrases that describe the people, place and events in the photo or video, and then click Next.
  4. When you’re done, click Go to Story to see the files you’ve added. Simple, huh?


Q: I’m going to start by commenting on other people’s stories. Are these moderated?
A: NowPublic’s readership and contributors bring offenders to the attention of staff who moderate stories and comments – some may have slipped through due to sheer volume and if these violate our Code of Conduct, they’ll be removed. A comment that commits the following transgressions will be pulled, ie those that:

  • are abusive, off-topic, use excessive foul language
  • contain racist, sexist, homophobic and other slurs
  • are solicitations and/or advertising for products, services, personal sites
  • are posted with the explicit intention of provoking members or staff

Users who repeatedly post this kind of content risk having their accounts blocked for also violating NowPublic’s Terms of Use. If you find content on the site that does this, email

Q: I read an awesome story and want to let its writer know. How can I pat him/her on the back?
A: When you recommend something on the site, it’s a nice way of showing the author some love and these random acts of kindness cannot be underestimated. Articles worthy of a recommendation should offer:

  • original & specific information for the searcher in a hurry
  • useful tips for those in need of breaking stories and under-reported news
  • fresh, detailed content rather than generic or tired overviews
  • comprehensive explanations or handy references for further reading
  • a witty and entertaining voice that does not rely on tired language
  • content that inspires trust and confidence in the credentials
  • substantiated ideas validated by reputable factual sources.

NowPublic loves a love-in and nothing says “you made my day” more than paying it forward and patting a contributor on the back by clicking the “recommend” button.

Q: Any chance I could get paid for my work on NowPublic?
A: Funny you should ask. NowPublic is getting ready to relaunch with a new design and business and editorial model in the spring of 2010 at which time we’ll be inviting new and existing contributors to join a cadre of paid Producers who will receive a revenue-share of all ad earnings on their articles as well as a host of other benefits and incentives. We’re just working behind the scenes as we speak to prepare the site interface, tools, editors and features for this shift and then we’ll raise the current and invite you to take advantage of the offer. Meanwhile, get some practice in on the site as is and build your skill set and/or apply on our site to write for, a site in our owner’s family of media platforms, who is paying local experts to write for their city edition (240 in US and Canada).

Q: You know, more people should check you guys out. How can I spread the word and get your updates?
A: Getting a NowPublic News feed will allow you to get our latest headlines refreshed every time new content is added. You can take this feed and show it on your website, blog or have it published to your news reader.

RSS news feeds identified by the RSS logo  or the letters RSS, allow you to keep track of your favorite NowPublic stories, channels and contributors. Rather than simply bookmarking your favourite websites, you can subscribe to RSS feeds using a Newz CrawlerFeedDemonGoogle ReaderNewsfireViennaNetNewsWireBloglinesFeedZillaNewsGatorMozilla Firefox.

As for other ways to stay in touch, you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter if you’re member and you can follow us on FacebookTwitter , and Flickr and share these links with anyone unfortunate enough to have been missing out – they are about to have their hair blown back by an indispensable news source for online media junkies. Thanks for getting on the horn and letting them know!

Continue reading at Frequently Asked Questions | Community | Newsroom | NowPublic




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