Special | A New Model for Journalism in NationStates

A special article, outlining my vision for NationStates Today, and how we wish to bridge the differences in such a vibrant community.

I first played NationStates in early 2013, before dropping out after around six months. At the time, I had failed to grasp the principles of regional government, or of the larger meta that existed around the game. It was only after coming back to the game in early 2016 that I fully realised the richness of the multitude of communities that existed around the game, from the sprawling mass of the Pacifics, to the uniqueness of the existence of two UK themed regions – something which I find funny even as I write this. While I did eventually settle in The Communist Bloc as my regional home, I know that I most likely would have found a welcoming community in many other regions.

Yet, it became apparent relatively quickly that trying to find out information from other regions was pretty difficult – despite being in the Cabinet, it was left to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to track down the news of the day, and relay the scraps of importance to the head of state. When we heard of a coup, it would often require going to the region in question and looking for any indication of the chain of events, or asking around to see if anyone was close enough to know of the details. There were rare instances where there would be some form of news source that would provide some form of the information we sought, however these were often published a while after the events occured, with some relying on the reader understanding the inner workings of the region in question. This issue became more obvious to me when I become Minister of Information – as head of our region’s news service, I tried my best to inform the regional population of the goings on of government, yet foreign visitors were often left confused.

Thus, after stepping away from active governance in my home region a few months ago, I have sought to establish a new sort of news source for NationStates – one aimed at consolidating regional sources, bringing together talented journalists from all regions, without a hidden agenda, and without being beholden to any region’s whims. Furthermore, I want establish NationStates Today as more than just a re-publisher, or linking service – while these play a vital role in the modern meta, I want NS Today to serve as something more, something more substantial.

The Vision & the Design

Initially, I envisioned the organisation behind NationStates Today to be one managed not by a core, elite group, but rather one overseen by elected Governors, who would be chosen by signatories to an international agreement that I drafted at the outset. This agreement outlined how the organisation would function, what responsibilities regions who wished to partake would have, and also how they would interact with the leadership. It also established that the readers and writers of the organisation would play an integral role in electing and deciding upon the leadership of the organisation. On top of these procedural establishments, it also tied regions into protecting journalistic integrity and independence, with the aim of helping to foster a stronger inter-regional news sector generally.

After drafting a basic outline of this idea, I approached Trabardia (aka Brihimia) to seek his input and assistance on the plan. It became obvious he had a passion for the project, which, when combined with his experience within both gameplay and media sectors, made him a perfect choice for Chief Content Officer and Editor-in-Chief – the design of this very paper is all down to him. He is  a talented and driven individual, and I look forward to seeing what he achieves.

However, ideas and a supporting figure is not enough; we needed to begin work, so we could produce our first edition (hint: you are reading it).

The First Steps

I made the decision early on that we would have an off-site website, which would host both our official editions, along with news as it happened. For me, this marked the key difference between my vision for NS Today and other news sources – a source for, hopefully, daily news and articles, allowing  readers to receive news close to when it happens. Thus, I went straight to my favourite domain registrar and took a gamble – I chose the domain nationstates.news for our site; easy to remember, clear in what we represent: the premier source of news within the game. While it may seem like a vanity project to some, I feel it is important to establish a clear brand and a single location for our news. It also means that our readers don’t have to track it down on the forums (although, we will also cross post there), or for a dispatch. Rather, they simply navigate to our website and can find the information they require.

After choosing how we would design our website, settling on WordPress, we then had to reach out to regions – we wanted around 10 sizeable regions to be on-board with our project, and being involved with it, before we launched. I designed a detailed plan and proposal document, with the aim of presenting it to as many regions as possible and drum up interest, hopefully translating into signatures.

The Hurdles

Turns out not many regions were interested. The only region we received any confirmed interest from was, not surprisingly, TCB, with some further interest from a couple of other regions. However, all of these other regions withdrew their interest relatively quickly. This left us in a pretty unfortunate position – we had failed to gain the interest or support of the vast majority of large regions, which left us wondering; was our structure the right one?

The Pivot

We decided that our proposed structure was too reliant on region’s support – few had any interest in signing up to a treaty that tied them into an organisation with those they might call a rival, even if it was just for news distribution. That severely limited our appeal, and forced us to consider a change in direction: content first.

We will be free of political bias, with tight editorial guidelines to ensure we publish quality articles. We will protect the rights of journalists across NationStates, with legal support when it’s needed.

Therefore, I am more than happy to lay out what NS Today will be – a organisation directed by its members, with our writers front and center. We wanted to be free from the interference of gameplay politics, and that is what we we will be. And so, I ask you dear reader, do you want to be part of the future of NationStates journalism?

If so, join us. Join our Discord, visit our website, apply to join our staff – we need writers, graphic designers and more. We want to change the way news is delivered in the game, but we can never do it alone.

The Future

As we go into the coming months, our website will become more refined and polished, our editions (hopefully) regular and our content library expanded. My aim is to see our content be wider than simple prose – I want us to expand into podcasting, video production and game-wide competitions and events. With this in mind, I want your opinions and your input. Join our Discord at discord.gg/NsfX7wM and discuss the project with us.

Lewis

Lewis is a former citizen of The Communist Bloc, having been so for nearly 4 years, and has been playing NationStates for nearly 5. During his time in the Bloc, he served in the executive branch in a multitude of positions, including as General Secretary. Lewis has also served as an important member of the legislature, drafting well over 30 legislative instruments, including major constitutional restructurings. He currently serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NationStates Today.