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I.

Statement of Purpose

Each Gothamist site is about its respective city and everything in it--that is, everything that is
INTERESTING. Posts on Gothamist sites are dedicated to imparting useful knowledge in a fun, brief,
and engaging way. We are service journalists--we want to inform people about the most important
news, arts and events, and food stories every single day.

II. Basic Structure of the Site

Gothamist leads every day with hard news--the most important stories for the day. Sometimes that
includes arts and events and food news (if it's timely or exclusive.) Otherwise, the afternoon is for
soft stuff and less pressing news. Interviews should be scheduled early in the day--and up by 10
a.m. The daily events list should go up by 12 p.m. The daily links roundup should go up at the end
of the day. Sports should go up as soon as the scores are available--usually around 10 p.m.
Overnight should be used for lighter/weirder stuff, and for breaking news.

III. Voice

1.. Spirit/Attitude: Smart (but straightforward--conversational and easy to read) Bright and happy
and positive. Helpful. Nice. Serious, when called for--funny at all other times (but not ever corny or
schticky--try to keep it to one joke per post). Occasionally sarcastic, but never bitter or snarky.
Specific--no platitudes, generalities, or passive voice. Surprising, whenever possible: delivering
scoops and fresh perspective, or connecting facts.

We think our cities are generally wonderful, and we're happy to be here. Things aren't always
perfect--and some targets deserve derision (crooked politicians, dastardly criminals, idiot celebrities,
failing municipal infrastructure)--but we only go after them where it's relevant to our prime missions
(news, arts, food), and with the right attitude (weary sarcasm, straight-faced accounts of their
outrageous behavior.) All posts should read like the writer is having a good time.

2. First vs. Second. vs. Third Person: Avoid using "I", "we" or "Gothamist says" at all costs. This
isn't a personal blog. That usually reads badly, and involves personal opinion, which should either
be expressed directly (“The MTA is poorly run” vs. “Gothamist has always though the MTA is poorly
run”) or moved into the comments. The latter option is always better.

Cut out anything personal, move it to the comments, and whatever is left is usually better.
Exceptions include reviews (although 99% of the time these don't need "I" or "We" to be cutting and
incisive), and breaking and first-hand news accounts (“I was just on the way to work and saw Mayor
Bloomberg riding the subway!") Further explanation from Torontoist:

If you’re thinking of using "I," ask yourself if you’re really part of what makes the story
interesting to our readers. If you went to see a movie and reviewed it, a review needn’t have "I"
in it. But if at that movie, say, the director punched you in the face and took an infant (your
infant) in the audience hostage and you saved their life—well, people will probably want to hear
about that from your perspective. If you really must use "I," ask the editors before you start
writing your article. Otherwise, experiment with what works and sounds best for you, as well as
what you're comfortable writing. Most prefer to exclude themselves from the article altogether,
but some people like using "Torontoist" in place of "I" ("Torontoist was at a concert last night"),
and some like the editorial we instead of that ("We were at a concert last night").

3. Brevity: Most posts can best be served with an image/video and 100-200 words. If you go
past 200, ask yourself if there is anything that can be cut (personal opinion, vagaries, flowery
speech, digressions.) If there isn't, and you must keep going, cap it at 300 words max--and that
needs to be a rare case. Split it into another post if you have to. Exceptions: interviews,
liveblogs, breaking news posts with many updates.

4. Structure
a) Start with a great headline. It should capture the critical info in the piece, and if possible,
present it cleverly (be funny, be pun-y). However, do not attempt to be clever when reporting
serious news. Shorter is better; if a title breaks the line, it's too long.
b) Lede: The first sentence needs to inform the reader of the most important facts, and surprise
them. You've got five seconds to capture the most important points in the piece and convince
them to read anything else (yes: who, what, when, where, why!). Never start with a generality,
an off-topic digression, or an attempt at sarcasm. Deliver the facts first. Before you publish any
piece, ask yourself: If everything but the first paragraph was cut off, would this still make
sense? Would it still capture the point? If not, then it needs to be reworked--because most
readers will see it in summary form (after the 4th post on the page).
c) Supporting facts: The second paragraph is usually for the supporting info--the money quote,
the related information, etc. Don't include a second paragraph if the first does most of the
work. Do not oversell.
d) Twist: The last paragraph or part of the piece is the twist. It's an art form. You've told them
what they need to know, and now you're going to spin it--with a little bit of sarcasm, or a joke,
or a slightly off-topic fact. This is what separates a great piece from just a good one.
e) Related links: Every post needs to have at least three links. Single-source posts are generally
just repackaging of other sources. We are not repackagers. We add value to every piece,
whether it’s linking to a resource to combat the issue or recalling another instance of the
incident. If you haven't gotten in enough links, add them in a strip at the bottom.
f) Tags: Add tags to each post. They should be in the broad categories (like crime, politics)
as well as specific (neighborhoods, like Brooklyn, Adams-Morgan; or full names of people, like
Mayor Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg,; or topics, like Election 2008).
g) Blockquotes: Please use them judiciously - they are good for when there are complicated
explanations or quotes. If you're only blockquoting one or sentences, you can usually just
include them in regular copy (unless it's for emphasis). It also looks bad to have two posts with
blockquotes in a row.

5. Reportage and Sources and Linking


a) Every post on Gothamist should have at least one original fact, new quote, previously unspoken
opinion, or unmade connection. Pick up the phone and call a source in the article, or another source
you have on the topic. Look up all the people named in the piece to find additional info. Contextualize
the piece against other big stories occupying the city that year. Find or make a graphic that illustrates
the point. Look up some data from a statistical or governmental source.
b) Always credit images, and never steal images (see appendix below).
c) Always credit other reporters, and link to the pieces you quote.

d) When blockquoting, clearly indicate where you are drawing the information from. Examples:

From the NY Post:

"We called it the Friday Night Special," Pedersen said. The "intense" end-of-the-work-
week escapades, he said, usually began with a "couple of drinks" at a local T.G.I. Fridays and
culminated in "a hard-core consensual sex orgy" among the three of them at McGreevey's
Woodbridge condo...

"He liked watching me, and she would watch me while she was [performing sex acts] with
Jim," noted Pedersen. "In my opinion, me being a part of their sexual relationship enhanced
it for both of them."

From President Bush's speech:

First of all, in a free market, there's going to be good times and bad times. That's how
markets work. There will be ups and downs. And after 52 consecutive months of job growth,
which is a record, our economy obviously is going through a tough time. It's going through a
tough time in the housing market, and it's going through a tough time in the financial
markets.

6. What Doesn't Belong on Gothamist


a) Libel: See above. Gothamist is not generally negative. If we must go negative, it's only against a
worthy source or an extremely public figure. When going negative, double check every assertion in the
piece. Those must all be based on fact, not opinion. If an assertion is not sourced, leave it out.
Remember: All Gothamist authors are responsible for their writing. If we get sued, so will you, so let's
make sure it's for a good reason.
b) Personal references: Leave it out. Always judge whether or not to post based on newsworthiness--
not your personal interests. Do not give freebies to your friends, relatives, and co-workers. Down in
the comments, anything goes. But up in the post, let's keep it professional.
c) Unreasonable Negativity: Nothing makes our site look worse than going after an unworthy target--
someone who isn't in the public eye, for instance, or someone who is relatively lacking power or
psychologically unstable. The internet can be a very provocative forum- resist the urge to pay back
negativity with more negativity (that goes for comments as well). If you have concerns, trust your
instinct and play it safe - usually commenters can connect the dots.

IV. Grammar and Usage

In general: when in doubt, consult the AP Stylebook, which is what newspapers follow (Chicago Manual
of Style is for magazines; it’s a good resource, but –ist sites are more like newspapers). Here are some
grammar/usage issues to note (and this is clearly not a comprehensive, all-encompassing list).

a) Always put commas and periods inside quotation marks. All other forms of punctuation (colons,
semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points) follow quotation marks, unless they originally
appeared in the quoted material. As Elements of Style says, "typographical usage dictates that the
comma be inside the [quotation] marks, though logically it seems not to belong there."

"This Lamb Sells Condos,” "Song Song Song," and "The CN Tower Belongs to
the Dead" are all songs by Owen Pallett, also known as Final Fantasy.
David's favorite lyrics are from "This Lamb Sells Condos": "When he was a
young man, he conjured up a firemare / And burnt off both his eyebrows and
half a head of hair." "Owen Pallett," David said, "is awesome to use as an
example in a style guide." Is he just jealous, though, since he has never
"conjured up a firemare"?
Use the serial (or Oxford) comma in lists: David Miller is tall, blonde, and handsome.

b) Format dates, times, and locations nicely. Place dots between p.m. and a.m., and spell out rather
than abbreviate words like "Avenue" and "West" in street names.

Good: 10:30 p.m.; 1000 Queen Street West; January 6; from 8 to 11:45 p.m.
Not good: 1030pm; 1000 Queen st w.; Jan. 6; 8pm-11pm
(The jury's out on things like January 6th, but if you're ok with ditching the "th" or "st" or "nd," do it.)

c) Rule of thumb for formatting titles of works: If it's part of a whole (songs, poems, short stories), it
goes in quotation marks, but if it's a whole (books, movies, CDs), it's italicized.

One of my favorite Rolling Stones songs is "Sympathy for the Devil," off of
Beggars Banquet. The movie loosely based on the song—the aptly-named
Sympathy for the Devil—was pretty crappy, though.

d) If you're using accented characters (à, é, õ, âñd sô öñ) or other non-standard symbols (like £ or ©)
absolutely anywhere in the title or in the entry, you need to replace them with the numerical codes
listed on this page. The reason for this is because of a bug in some online RSS aggregators, like
Bloglines, that will continue to mark an entry as "Updated" if one of those characters is in it. We'll gladly
inform you when you don't have to follow this stupid rule, but for now, it's something we have to abide
by.

f) Familiarize yourself with dashes and use them correctly. The em dash indicates a break in thought, as
in "You may be wondering—as many do—what on earth the em dash is," while the shorter en dash
indicates a range, as in "the play runs 1–3 p.m. during February–April." Note that there are no spaces
between the dashes and the characters beside them, and that you can't use hyphens in dashes' stead.

g) It's your call whether you want to swear or not, but be selective: Fucking swearing all the fucking
time for no fucking reason is fucking lame. Also, since people fucking read us at work, be fucking
careful with the fucking images that you choose; don't ever, for instance, have an image of people
fucking.

h) When using numerals, there are many options to choose from: spell out one through nine, use
numerals for 10 and above” being the most common. We suggested using numerals for all ages and
spelling out numbers when used as the first word of a sentence.

Appendix A. Editorial Ideas

There are some main umbrellas for the most-blogged about topics, like the city itself and various
events:

 Local news
 Transit
 Politics
 Crime
 Real estate/neighborhood
 Sports,
 Baseball
 Football
 Basketball
 Hockey
 Soccer
 Weird/Extreme Sports
 Recreational sports
 Food
 Reviews
 Recipes
 Visits
 Wine
 Restaurants
 Stores, shops, groceries
 Food trends
 Arts and Events
 Music – rock, folk, rap, classical, etc,
 Film
 TV
 Photography
 Fine Arts
 Books
 National news (if it is locally relevant)
 Style
 Health and Science
 Interviews
 Contests
 Ask -Ist
 Weather
 Miscellaneous
 Weird city internet projects
 Maps
 Odd tech stories
 Cool pictures from Flickr
 Cool videos from Vimeo

Appendix B. Photo Usage

This is where we will aggregate best practices for photo usage on all -ist sites.

The rule of thumb is that we should refrain from using photographs taken by newspapers or
professional photographers. If you're not sure about it, then don't. We rather be safe than sorry,
because we have been asked to pay back photographers for using their pictures. (We think they figured
out we used their photos when the contributors credited their name in the caption; credit is nice, but
when it gives people a Google-search-inspired reason to send us an invoice, that's another story.)

Flickr is a great resource, if you use things tagged with your site and that are available under Creative
Commons. However, if you do use someone's Flickr photos, you should credit them and link back to
their page. Usually Flickr users are more amenable.

We can use CDs, DVDs, movie posters, product shots (like on Amazon or the manufacturer’s website)
magazine covers--basically content that we could technically photograph ourselves. We feel those are
less likely to be the target of a photographer wanting usage fees versus a photo of a celeb at an event.
Also, photos from the official movie website or pics from a TV show or major news broadcast (like what
you'd find on the CBS News website) are pretty much okay, as many times the publicity departments
will send out those assets anyway.

We're all learning here, but we haven't had any issues with using products as the images (a bag of
Doritos for a post about obesity, say), so we think that's a safe ground.

EveryStockPhoto.com http://www.everystockphoto.com/index.php

Free Images http://www.freeimages.co.uk/

Stock Vault http://www.stockvault.net/

Appendix C. Legal Considerations

When in doubt, consult http://www.gothamistllc.com/mediakit/legal.php and then email Jake and Jen.

Appendix D. Other Useful Guides

1. Torontoist http://torontoist.com/postingguide.php

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