Writer's Guide to Publishing on IVN
Welcome to IVN!
We have published content from more than 400 individual writers from across the political spectrum, and we welcome your participation!
We have provided readers unique, informative, and engaging content they cannot get anywhere else.
We have grown to half a million Facebook followers and have been at the fore of the nonpartisan space for over a decade.
IVN has accomplished all of this on a shoestring budget, and it is thanks to you!
As IVN continues to grow, we encourage all authors, regardless of their ideologies and area(s) of expertise, to consider the general IVN narrative. We ask each of you to consider:
- Why is this piece important to nonpartisan voters?
- Why should they care about it?
- Is the object of the story credible and serious?
- How does this story challenge the traditional narrative(s)?
- Why does it matter to readers who are disillusioned with partisan news and politics?
- Is my target reader someone who does not agree with me, or am I preaching to the choir?
To keep content consistent and high-quality, we've put together some guidelines to help when publishing on IVN.
The etiquette is first and foremost the most important thing on IVN. We are the only online news platform (that we know of) for independent-minded readers and authors that is founded not on an ideology, but an etiquette:
No personal or partisan attacks: Name calling, defamation of character, direct attacks on an individual are not allowed. Partisan attacks constitute broad generalizations like “All Republicans think this” or “All Democrats do that” or attacking a person based on their party affiliation and/or political philosophy.
No self-promotion: Have a project, ballot measure, or campaign you want to talk about? Great! We want you to write about it. The only thing we ask is that you focus on the newsworthiness of what you are doing. Because you are writing in first-person, you don’t need a journalist to filter your voice. But this is a news and information platform. Please do not use your content to advocate for someone’s vote, to donate, sign a petition, etc. You may direct people to your website or elsewhere where you can conduct your advocacy efforts.
Substantiate claims: If you make a claim, link to a credible source to back it up whenever possible. If you are unsure about a claim you make, rely on the “rule of two”: Find two distinct and credible sources to back it up.
We understand that there may be times when following the etiquette is not easy or clear. Our goal is to facilitate a good conversation and quality journalism, but we do not want to limit your ability to voice your unfiltered opinions or potentially unpopular stories.
If you have a question about the IVN etiquette, reach out to the editorial team at email@example.com.
What Do I Write About?
People write best what they know best. We understand that not everyone is comfortable or familiar enough with election reform and the independent movement to write about it. Rely on your strengths, but remember to frame it and give it appropriate context. Remember: why is this important to nonpartisan voters?
On the front page of IVN, there is a drop-down menu of issues that are the main areas of focus for our content:
- Election Reform
- Campaigns (including candidacies, ballot measures, organizations, etc.)
- Civil Rights
If you are stuck and don’t know what to write about, look over this list of topics for inspiration. Also, fill free to reach out to the editorial team with questions and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ColumnsIVN Column, "In Full Color"
Another feature on IVN is the columns, which are focused on specific story arcs, issues, and topics. If you write an article that you think fits in an existing column on IVN, check out the columns on the About page and reach out to our editorial team to see if they are interested in hosting the article: email@example.com.
IVN doesn't publish press releases verbatim from candidates or organizations. However, writers can craft an article around a press release from a group or candidate. Take the key information from the press release, include it with your own language, and add quotes from the press release.
Aesthetics Are Important
When writing an article for IVN, it is important to keep it clean and professional:
- Keep paragraphs short and concise (no one likes looking at a wall of text)
- Make sure there is nothing strange about the HTML formatting
- Use only a single space after periods
- Proofread for grammar and spelling mistakes
- Add videos and other relevant multimedia
Remember to save your work throughout so you don't lose previous revisions of your article in the event of a problem.
IVN also offers tools to improve the interactivity and aesthetics of the article. We call them “shortcodes.” If you see a quote from an article pulled out to the side, or a button that links to another relevant article, or a list of related articles at the bottom, those are shortcodes.
You can find a complete guide to IVN shortcodes here.
And when you are done inserting it into WordPress, click “Preview” and read through your entire article at least twice. Check the formatting, the embedded codes of videos or features, the image size, and quality, the header text sizes, the content --everything!
Articles should be ready to publish before they are submitted to the IVN editorial team for review. A member of the editorial board will review the article for publication and do basic copy editing to it, but due to time constraints cannot do more than that.
Search Engine Optimization
The Yoast SEO tool can be found below the body of the article in the content edit screen. It helps optimize how the article will appear in Google and other search engines.
The SEO headline, meta description, focus keyword, and meta keywords should all be filled out to help your article rank higher in search results.
Focus Keyword: This is a single word or phrase that you want the article to rank high for when people search for that keyword/phrase in Google. It should appear in the headline, the article’s link, and the meta description.
Keep it within the nonpartisan space if you can, and keep in mind that there are certain keywords we will not be able to compete with. For instance, if you are writing an article on Donald Trump, there is no way IVN will be able to compete in search engine results for “Donald Trump.” We would be competing against the mainstream news cycle.
Useful tool: Go to Google Trends and search for the word or phrase you wish to use. If it is unique to the nonpartisan space and is something people are searching for, use it.
Headline: What is your article saying? What’s the point? How is it relevant in the nonpartisan space? It’s ok to get provocative with the headline without getting overly sensational. Think about what will make a reader want to click on this headline.
Remember that your focus keyword should appear in the headline and it is better if it shows up in the beginning of the headline.
Meta Description: The meta description appears below the headline on search engines and when shared on social media. Keep it short and concise. Again, how is the article relevant to nonpartisan voters and the independent space? What is going to grab people? The focus keyword should appear in the meta description and as close to the beginning as possible.
Additionally, manually putting in the headline into the Yoast SEO Facebook settings is important for social media shares so only the headline appears, without “- IVN.us.”
It is important to keep tags general. Using overly specific tags will create a new archive page where only that article lives. Keeping tags general and consistent archives all related articles on one page.
For example, if your article has anything to do with a privacy issue, tag it with “privacy.” If it is about an election, tag it with “elections.” If it is about an independent campaign, tag it “independent candidates.”
In contrast, please do not use specific tags like “Indiana Primary 2018,” as that tag has a short shelf-life.
A member of the editorial team will review the article before it publishes and will help you with tags if you need.
Remember, if you have any questions about IVN, the editorial process, or this writer's guide, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and a member of the editorial team will get back to you with an answer.
Thank you for writing with IVN!