Blog post by used with permission.

Have you ever puzzled over how a post gets onto the site, or wondered about our criteria for our different types of posts? I'd like to give you a peek at our editorial process and show you how we strive to maintain accuracy and journalistic integrity. Perhaps this will inspire you to write for GGWash!

In recent months, we've been boosting our election coverage and experimenting with a variety of different types of posts. We think it's important that readers understand when something is news or analysis versus when it's someone's opinion, for example.

GGWash uses a matrix for different types of posts. We want readers to understand at a glance if they're reading news, a call to action, a political endorsement, or an opinion. Note that on recent GGWash posts, right before the name of the author, you'll see a category like “Editorial” or “About GGWash.” We also want to provide various ways for our community to participate.

News and Analysis Opinion Advocacy Politics
Definition Straight-up factual news reporting, or reporting with an urbanist “take” on an issue Someone's opinion, couched primarily as argumentation (op-ed) or GGWash's opinion (editorial) Inform about an issue and have a call to action, or just ask readers to take action Endorsing a political candidate
% facts/information 80-100% 20% 20-80% 20-80%
% opinion 0-20% 80% 20-80% 20-80%
Who can write Everyone Op-eds are by elected officials, experts, and invitation only. Editorials are written by the Editorial Board or a GGWash Committee. Staff (excluding editor), volunteer campaign lead, or partner organization Members of the Elections Committee
Limit No limit; most published posts fall in this category Approximately 10% of published posts (1-2/week) Approximately 10% of published posts (1-2/week) Approximately 20% of published posts (3-4/week) during elections seasons

The process for getting a post onto the site works like this:

  1. First, a new contributor emails or with a story pitch. (You can find instructions for how to write a pitch here.) Established contributors can sometimes send me a draft that's already written, but it's best to check in with me first. Someone may be working on a similar post, and I may have suggestions.
  2. Then I will assess your pitch and send you feedback. You either revise the pitch and send it back, or begin writing. If you need to talk to experts, I can connect you with other contributors who know about the general topic or other people you may need.
  3. Once the draft is ready, I'll edit your post, usually in a Google Doc so you can see the changes I make. I may ask you questions or tell you to verify information. If the topic is a particularly nuanced, wonky, or sensitive one, I'll consult our experts to verify that the post is accurate and fair.
  4. Once we're both happy with the draft, I'll send it to the Editorial Board for a final “gut check.” We have a designated member each day who looks over each post in the queue before it goes live (usually a night or two before), but all members are welcome to weigh in. If they flag an issue with your post, I'll work with you to address their concerns.
  5. Once you, I, and the Editorial Board are all ok with the post, we can publish! I will send you a preview of your post before it goes live.

A few tips for writers:

  • Please read the instructions on our writer page carefully before you begin your post. If you want something turned around quickly, keep it short, easy to understand, and newsy — editing out opinion, jargon, and excess length can take a lot of time.
  • If you want to time a post around an event, please plan ahead and get me a draft at least a week before. I'll do my best to help you out, but sometimes our process can take a while.
  • When writing, always consider the audience. Many people who come to our site don't have a background in urban planning, but are simply curious about how cities work or want to be more engaged in their community. How can you make whatever you're writing about exciting and relevant to readers across the region? What's the human impact?
  • Finally, if you have questions or need guidance, please don't hesitate to reach out! I want to help you write great posts.

Do you have any questions about the editing process or post types? Feel free to comment below!

Tagged: about ggwash

Julie Strupp is Greater Greater Washington's Managing Editor. She's a journalist committed to building inclusive, equitable communities and finding solutions. Previously she's written for DCist, Washingtonian, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and others. You can usually find her sparring with her judo club, pedaling around the city, or hanging out on her Columbia Heights stoop.