Sudan cannot become a free nation by merely stopping the invading Khartoum slave traders, with U.S. and U.N. assistance. Sudan cannot stand among nations until she replaces Khartoum's corrupt pseudo-government with a real government which can unite her tribes, resolving intertribal disputes by law rather than by war.
But what details will fill the future Constitution of Free Sudan?
These proposed details are actually a translation of the United States Constitution into modern language, with brief, clear explanations of technical legal terms, and application of its principles to the needs of Sudan. This article explains the differences between the U.S. Constitution as it was originally, and what it has become, and why the original U.S. Constitution would be a better model for Sudan.
(The Sudan Diaspora News, described next, is a forum for this view of the Khartoum government, is also a forum for those who favor the government. The Sudan Diaspora News is a fair forum where all views can interact; but more importantly, it reports news of concern to readers of all views.)
The Sudan Diaspora News
Join our online discussion board: share current news from Sudan and from those trying to help Sudan. God willing, your reports will, very soon, (as of September 1, 2004 AD, our target initial publication date is sometime in October) become the basis for a print newspaper serving Sudanese subscribers outside Sudan, and distributed free inside Sudan. You will even be paid for your articles!
Read here ABOUT the newspaper, how to subscribe, and how to submit news. When you have news to submit, go to the Web News Submission Site. (Clicking here will take you to another website which hosts the discussion board. Don't forget your way back!) When you have subscribed, you can go to this site to read news as soon as it has been processed, before it has been printed.
About The Sudan Diaspora News
The structure proposed here is not yet "set in stone". If you can think of a way to make it better, before it begins publication, now is the time to make your suggestions. Our anticipated publication date, for our first issue, is some time in October, 2004 AD. Until that time, Sudan News can be posted and shared at the Web News Submission Site. But until we arrive at a better plan, here is how we expect to start:
Contents of the rest of this article: What to Expect from The Sudan Diaspora News | Subscription Rate | How to Subscribe | Languages | Distribution | The Web News Submission Site: Not an Ordinary Discussion Board | Funds | Records and Reports | Authority | Monthly Budget | Payroll | Incentives for Sudanese Organizations to Gather Subscribers | Chain of Command | Writers' Guidelines | Payment | Documenting your Sources | Categories of Writing | Form of Article | Editorial Board | Submitting Articles | Submitting photos | How the Sudan Diaspora News evolved, and how it addresses USAID's plea for Sudanese intercommunication
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE SUDAN NEWS.
"The Rest of The News is what you will read in The Sudan News.
"From mainstream newspapers, you will read about only the most important wars, or the most important outrages, or the most important peace initiatives, in Sudan. You are not likely to read about your own village, unless it has just been destroyed.
"In other words, from mainstream newspapers, you will read only the 'Top National Stories'. But you won't find any 'Local News' about the people you love, in the village you left.
"The Sudan News, with the help of reports from readers like you, (for which we will pay), will report them all. Because we hire the best reporters in the world for news from Sudan: Sudanese in diaspora, calling their families back home, along with their contacts in the SPLA, Egypt, refugee camps, NGO's, and in Khartoum.
"The national stories, and the local stories.
"The dramatic peace initiatives, and the smallest steps towards peace at the village level.
"Reports from the SPLA, missionaries, NGO's, and families back home.
"The great conflicts, between cultures: indeed, between the innocent and the ruthless; and the small conflicts, between villages.
"The conflicts between armies, and the conflicts between ideas.
"The stories of horrible tragedies that drive you to your knees in prayer for God's intervention, and the stories of happy times and festivals that inspire you to thank God for the flowers among the refuse.
"Articles showing how Sudanese, living in Sudan, with few tools and materials available, can make more with what they have, and build Sudan's technology, economy, and infrastructure -- because the Sudan Diaspora News will be distributed inside Sudan, to help Sudanese!
"The news you can't do anything about but pray, and the news you can do something about, and we hope you will, and we will do our best to give you the information how. Because the real purpose of The Sudan News is not just to entertain you so you will be content while you are doing nothing, or so you can feel important complaining about how Sudan is going to Hell, but to equip you to help make Sudan better.
"News about the alternatives for a new form of government serving the South, and the candidates who will run in the new government, during the 6-8 month political campaign which U.S. pressure may cause to begin before our first issue goes out! John Mark, of USAID, said May 2 in Des Moines, Iowa, 'the clock is ticking. If this peace agreement is signed, perhaps in the next month or perhaps two months, there will start this six month period of preparation. And then we'll start the six year period. Seven or eight months is a very short time for this preparation. There is supposed to be a Government of South Sudan on the first day of the six year period.' When this door opens, newspapers outside Sudan cannot be expected to report on more than occasional condensed stories about the top issues. Only a newspaper distributed inside Sudan has the ability to report, in depth, on not only the principal features of the forms of government proposed, and the top candidates for their positions, but all the candidates running, and thorough, robust discussion of all the details of a new Constitution.
"And here's a bonus: YOU can write articles and opinions for this newspaper, which your families in Sudan can read, even if they live where mail never goes! Because this newspaper will be delivered, God willing, where there is no mail delivery!"
Subscription rate. $30 for 6 monthly issues, or $50 for one year (for 12 issues; one per month). $10 more for each additional copy mailed to the same address.
1,500 subscribers, paying that rate, should pay the expenses, and allow payment to writers. As subscriptions grow, or money is added from advertising, or government subsidy, the extra money can be invested in three possible directions: making the newspaper more frequent (every two weeks, and then every week), making it more beautiful (glossy paper, and lots of great photos), or reducing the subscription price. Subscribers will be asked to vote on which direction to take.
You can earn your subscription by writing articles! Writers will be paid per word (see "Writers' Guidelines" below)! We believe that the most reliable source of news is reports from Sudanese who have just called and gotten the latest from their families in Sudan be telephone. American newspapers hire reporters who stay in touch with people likely to create news; if we did that, we would hire someone to call Sudanese who have just called home, and write stories about it. We believe that in this situation, we can get news more directly if we can encourage those who have the news to be the ones who write it and send it in. But we anticipate that we need to pay for articles, or few will be sent.
How to Subscribe. Mail a check for $50 for one year (12 issues; one each month) or $30 for 6 months (6 issues) to The Sudan Diaspora News, The Partnership Machine, Inc., 137 E. Leach, Des Moines Iowa 50315.
Languages. All articles will be in English; as many as we can find translators for will also be in Arabic; and articles about a particular region will be in the language of that region, if the author is willing to write in that language as well as in English.
Distribution. Subscribers will receive a copy in the mail. In addition, their subscription will permit them to read articles online as soon as they are edited, which will be before the printed newspaper arrives; web surfers who have not paid a subscription will not be able to read web articles until three weeks after the printed newspaper is mailed.
As much as God permits, we will also distribute the Sudan Diaspora News in Sudan itself, in cooperation with NGO's and Christian missionaries, as well as by contracting with Sudanese natives and the SPLA.
One possibility for significant funding for significant distribution in Sudan is the AIDS Awareness grant of $5 million. A Sudanese newspaper, written by Sudanese, and distributed within Sudan, carrying AIDS awareness information, will be carried by Sudanese within Sudan everywhere they go, but AIDS awareness literature, by itself, will tend to get thrown away. Therefore there can be no more efficient medium for the government to distribute AIDS awareness information, than by taking out ads, such as inserts, in the Sudan Diaspora News.
Christian missionaries might ordinarily be reluctant to participate in distributing AIDS awareness information, because, they say, secular government approaches to the problem tend to focus on passing out condoms which don't even prevent AIDS, and imply that the condoms will protect people, giving them a false sense of security so that they will even be more promiscuous, and thus more vulnerable. But Christian missionaries should not have this objection to helping distribute the Sudan Diaspora News, because they will be able to take out their own ads about AIDS, focusing on what God says about promiscuity, bringing spiritual balance to the secular approach.
Conversely, government agencies ordinarily will not associate with Christian missionaries on any project, because they do not want to favor a religion. But they should not have this objection to working with a broad coalition distribute a secular newspaper. Governments understand that newspapers sell advertizing to anyone, and that the fact that a newspaper takes an ad does not suggest to anybody that the newspaper endorses the ad, or that other advertisers endorse the ad. As for the possibility of a Christian perspective of AIDS, the Christian view is not offensive to secular governments. It's just that secular governments do not want to be seen as endorsing it.
Mass distribution of a million copies within Sudan, instead of just thousands of copies to Sudanese in Diaspora, by God's Grace and with USAID help, has the potential not only to expose political wrongs, promote peace initiatives, and dissolve tensions by explaining issues so that warring sides better understand each other, but such a newspaper has the potential to jump start the Sudanese economy by explaining how to make things with the simple tools available. By being translated into two or more languages, the Sudan Diaspora News can help Sudanese learn each other's languages.
(The Sudan Diaspora News will be secular in the sense that its purpose will not be the promotion of any particular religion, but, insofar as it addresses religion at all, to provide a fair forum for all religions; but mostly it will carry news of concern to people of every religion. It may be that at any given time, Sudan Diaspora News writers may happen to mostly be of a particular religion. But writing will be paid for on the basis of its news value, not its religious perspective.)
The Web News Submission Site: Not an Ordinary Discussion Board. In a Discussion Board, anyone can post their view, and the software instantly, automatically posts it. Posts are displayed in the order they are received: the most recent post is shown first, to people who come to the site. (Or, in some cases, the most recent post is shown last.) But that means people coming to the site do not see the most important, or the best, news when they first come, but whatever was most recent. Not only must the visitor sift through unimportant views on his way to real news, but even important news may be written so poorly that it cannot be understood.
Newspapers solve this problem by having editors who make all reports easy to read, and who put the subject of the article at the top of the article so a reader can quickly find out what the article is about. Editors can also separate news from views, and can arrange articles by region, and can feature information helpful to healing Sudan, while putting views not at all helpful at the back.
"Blogging" software allows all these things, unlike a discussion board. Articles are not automatically, instantly posted when they are submitted, but editors must first approve them, and if necessary, correct any grammar or spelling, and rearrange them with the subject of the article first, and then find the appropriate place in the Sudan Diaspora News lineup. Editors will sift through the "Letters to the Editor" (the Views), and organize them by putting letters on the same subject together. The result will be that readers will be able to turn right to their region for the latest news, and will not have to sift through garbage to find it.
The Web News Site should be able to handle articles in any language.
Funds. Funds for The Sudan Diaspora News (SDN) will be held in the Des Moines bank account of The Partnership Machine, Inc. (PM)
Should the newspaper be forced to disband for any reason, or if subscribers vote to transfer its assets to another newspaper, the PM will be held responsible for preserving, and returning, unspent funds equal to the portion of subscriptions which has been paid for but not delivered.
(Option: the organizations who collect subscriptions may opt to hold funds in their own accounts until it is seen how the newspaper progresses. However, no editor will be able to begin producing any monthly issue until he sees funds in the bank to pay at least for that month, and he will not be able to make longer range plans (such as hiring someone) until he sees funds adequate for several months.)
Records and Reports. For each deposit made of subscription money, a complete list will be made of every subscriber, with address, phone, etc., which will be kept with the bank record of the deposit. A Quickbooks printout of the bank record, including a record of checks written and deposits made, will be mailed monthly to any Sudanese organization or individual who expresses interest. Photocopies of the bank statement will be provided anyone who asks. A less specific treasurer's report will be printed in each issue, reporting the income and outgo for that month.
Authority. The Partnership Machine, Inc., will serve at the pleasure of subscribers, and subject to Sudanese organizations as explained below.
At any time a majority vote of the subscribers resolves to transfer operation of The Sudan News to another entity, The Partnership Machine, Inc., will transfer all subscription funds, and assets acquired by the funds, to the entity chosen by subscribers. Generous space in The Sudan News will be provided to fully explain everyone's views of any such transfer, so that voters will be fully informed of their options. Suggested details of how this will operate are recorded in the bylaws of The Partnership Machine, Inc., which are posted at www.Saltshaker.US.
(As a political consideration, it is safer to allow subscribers to vote to transfer ownership of their newspaper than to give that responsibility to any single Sudanese organization. If a Sudanese organization makes decisions about ownership of a newspaper which some misunderstand, there will be jealousies and rivalries. But who can complain about the majority vote of readers?) Any organization which has collected subscriptions for SDN may, with two months' notice, cancel its partnership with SDN and retrieve all unspent subscription funds (with the written permission of each subscriber who would then receive no more issues) for any purpose, such as for starting its own newspaper.
Option: a Sudanese organization such as SSS (The Sudanese Something or Something) could fully OWN the newspaper, so that all decisions of the newspaper would be made by the SSS board. This would place, fully upon that organization, the responsibility for handling the money. Handling large amounts of money can be fun if you get to spend some of it, but not if you can't spend any of it, and you might even lose money (MOST American newspapers are not profitable) and many will criticize you for what they imagine you are doing with their money. It probably should be held in a separate account, or at least in an account where it could not easily be mixed with other funds.
Such a Sudanese organization would also assume the responsibility for networking with all other Sudanese organizations necessary to make the newspaper effective. Unity is a goal too often elusive for human beings. The problem is that if a Sudanese group takes a position of power, it is accused of not being disinterested -- it is accused of seeking power so it can reward itself, instead of using influence to benefit all Sudanese equally. But if someone other than a Sudanese group takes the job, he is accused of not being Sudanese, and therefore of not caring about Sudanese.
What is needed is newspaper management which is "dispassionate", that is, either not members of any tribe, such as an American individual or group, or an even mix of members of all tribes. Real stability will not take root until Sudanese are truly able to work together across tribal boundaries, with no resistance from tribal feuds or jealousies.
The Partnership Machine, Inc., is certainly incapable of reaching out to the Sudanese in Diaspora alone, without the active help of Sudanese organizations! So Sudanese organizations will be indispensable to creating the necessary network; however, they won't be held responsible for the newspaper -- that is, they won't be criticized if the newspaper fails -- as long as they are helping someone else maintain the newspaper. But they will be, if they own the newspaper themselves.
So instead of proposing that one Sudanese organization completely own the newspaper, this proposal would give each contributing organization ownership of certain news space, proportionate to the quantity of subscriptions they gather.
This would relieve them of all financial responsibility, and all potential for criticism for managing a newspaper, yet they would still own the most important thing: space in a newspaper that reaches all Sudanese! There would even be the potential for prestige, and not just any prestige but a prestige which is beyond criticism. The prestige would be in the amount of space a Sudanese organization would own (and control). The reason this prestige would be beyond criticism, is that it is based purely on the proportion of subscribers it gathers. Who can criticize an organization, for merely having many members? (How umbrella organizations are dealt with is explained later.)
Monthly Budget. For the first few issues, until the newspaper's financial stability has been proven, SDN will produce one issue per month. Subscription funds will be allocated so that for each month, there is a maximum budget based on the subscriptions for that month which have been paid for. This rule is to ensure that funds for future months have not been robbed by overspending in previous months.
When the SDN budget is healthy enough for expansion, the subscribers may vote whether to invest the extra money in (1) more photos and more color, (2) glossy paper, (3) more payments to writers, (4) reduced subscription costs, or (5) more frequent circulation: such as bi-monthly (twice a month), weekly, or bi-weekly.
Editor Pro Tem. ("for the time being; temporarily".) Dave Leach, of Des Moines, Iowa, (who is not Sudanese), is available to serve as editor until an election of subscribers can make a more permanent selection. But if a million copies of the Sudan Diaspora News are distributed in Sudan every month, in addition to the thousands distributed to subscribers outside Sudan; and especially if the 6-8 month political campaign begins which USAID is pressing for, so that local, tribal, and national political candidates will need to be reported on and scrutinized, as well as the alternative forms of government being proposed, this newspaper will need a whole team of editors and writers. In fact, the first issue should begin the search for qualified writers and editors. My proper role, on such a team, would be that of "just one more pebble in the sea".
Dave Leach has published the Prayer & Action news since 1986. That, plus his cable TV show which he has hosted since 1995, his candidacies for public office, and his controversial, Bible-quoting stands against abortion and sodomy, have gotten him media coverage from local newspapers to CNN International, and have gotten him listed in Marquis' Who's Who in Media and Communications, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in the World. <> He owns the Family Music Center in Des Moines, Iowa, and serves as a musician in churches and bands. <> Dave Leach is impressed with the photos of the Sudanese army marching with the Christian flag, and believes God has special plans for Sudan, and, by God's grace, would like to be part of them.
Payroll. For the first few issues, until the newspaper's financial stability has been proven, no payroll for the production of any issue will be paid until that issue has been mailed and all printing and mailing expenses have been met, and all payroll expenses have been calculated, including payment per word to writers. At that time, all payroll will be paid at the target rate of 5 cents per word to writers (or as otherwise specified in other rules), and at a maximum wage of $10 per hour, and a minimum wage of $6 per hour, for any employee, PROVIDED these payments can be made without exceeding the maximum budget for that month. If such wage payments would exceed the month's budget, then all payments will be prorated downwards until they are within budget, and will then be paid.
Before wages will be raised, the proposed raises will be announced in an SDN article, giving readers an opportunity to raise objections, which will be printed.
Incentives for Sudanese organizations to gather subscribers. When an organization links their membership fee to a TSN subscription, (for example when an organization says their annual dues are $60, which includes a $50 TSN subscription, and then when the organization collects the dues and forwards the TSN subscription fees to TSN), TSN will require only $45 per subscriber (when paid one year in advance. Or $25 every six months.)
But the even greater incentive for organizations will be that when subscriber elections are held, the organization will cast the votes for those of its subscribers who do not vote.
Example: let's say there are 3,000 paid subscribers, 1,500 of whom were obtained by SSS (the Sudanese Something and Something). Let's say there is a subscriber election, where subscribers will be asked to vote on a new editor, and whether to ship bulk newspapers through Khartoum, and whether to stop using a news source (a person or an organization) who has been accused of watching a bad TV show. Let's say only half the subscribers obtained by SSS bother to vote. Then the SSS board would cast the remaining 750 votes. Or let's say the issues are much less controversial, and only 100 subscribers bother to vote. Then the SSS board would cast the remaining 1,400 votes, which would almost completely control the direction of the newspaper.
A third incentive for organizations to gather subscriptions is that the board of the organization will then control (indeed, will own) space in the newspaper proportionate to its contribution to the subscriber base. For example, if SSS has brought in 1,500 of the newspaper's 3,000 subscribers, it will control half the available news space of the newspaper, subject to the following chain of command. (By "news space", is meant the space available for news, as opposed to the space for Letters to the Editor, or for cartoons, or for advertisements, etc.)
For example: an "umbrella organization" may have few individual members of its own, but many members which are organizations. But the organizations are small, consisting of only a handful of subscribers. Who will control the space: the organizations under the umbrella, or the umbrella itself? Who will cast the uncast votes?
Answer: Whoever collects subscriptions, will direct the $5 commission per subscriber to the organization of his choice. (No commission will be paid to individuals; only organizations.) The subscriber will write in, on the subscription form, the organization he wants to represent him in controlling space. (If the subscriber leaves it blank, the one collecting subscriptions will decide.) But if an organization has only 5 members, it will not have enough space to be worth controlling. Therefore, very small organizations will have to band together with others, in order to gain control over enough space to be worth controlling.
As for those subscriptions gathered by individuals committed to umbrella organizations, then of course the umbrella organization will receive the commissions, its board will cast the votes of individuals who do not vote, and its board will control news space proportionate to the number of subscriptions it has brought in.
Therefore, organizations who want to be umbrella organizations for other Sudanese will have a very strong incentive to try to generate the majority of subscriptions: because then they will control valuable newspaper space, which will give small organizations a strong reason to join the umbrella organization: so that they can be on the umbrella organization's board, and have a voice in the control of the organization's valuable space!
Chain of Command. The votes of subscribers will be the last word, ultimately settling all disputes. However, as a practical matter, because elections can't be held every day but only occasionally, subscribers will never be able to decide day-to-day matters, but will only deal with more permanent issues like the overall direction of the newspaper. And, of course, they have the power to select the editor (as the newspaper grows, it will probably gain more editors) who will make the day-to-day decisions.
Next in authority will be the boards of organizations which have brought in subscribers. They will control newspaper space proportionate to their contribution of subscribers, and may give the editor instructions regarding his handling of their space, subject only to any restrictions which have been imposed by a vote of the subscribers.
For example, the SSS board could direct the editor to make sure its board meeting minutes gets printed on SSS's front page space, unless a subscriber election determines that no board meeting minutes will ever go on the front page again, but must go on the cartoon page.
Another example: the SSS board could inform the editor that it regards a particular writer as reliable, and as having very important reports, which should be featured on the front page, and should fill the SSS allotted space. The editor would have to obey.
The boards of organizations would be able to give directions more often than subscribers, but would still not be able to meet daily to decide daily issues.
Next in authority would be the editor. Though having the least authority over general policies, he would have the greatest authority over the fine details, because he is the one there all the time, the one who must authorize decisions in between board meetings and subscriber elections.
Finally, the lowest in authority, would be the individual subscriber. He will be able to write Letters to the Editor (which will not be paid for). Every subscriber will be guaranteed that a minimum of 50 of his words every 6 months will be printed, and probably much more, because most subscribers will probably send nothing. In addition, every subscriber will be allowed to purchase additional space, to express whatever view God impresses upon him, subject only to general restrictions imposed by subscriber elections; for example, no profanity.
Thus, everyone will have ACCESS TO THE MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS. No editor of this newspaper, under this proposal, and no future editor, I pray, will have the power to completely censor ideas just because he does not agree with them -- that power enjoyed by almost every editor of almost every American newspaper. The SDN editor will have discretion which articles to select when there is limited space, except when an organization dictates what articles to include in its space.
But if any subscriber wishes to buy space to present a view which the editor is not willing to publish for free, let no SDN editor have the power to censor that view! Let him deal with lies by addressing them and refuting them, not by censoring them! Let him deal with incendiary rhetoric by exposing it, and thereby inoculating readers against being deceived by it -- not by ignoring it! By this policy, lies will be refuted and their power destroyed, more effectively than if they are allowed to simmer in the background, ignored by the newspaper but leeching into the hearts of subscribers.
By this policy, truth will be given a level playing field for ideas. On this level playing field, the least subscriber, by expressing the truth God has given him, will have more influence than the most powerful lies of the most important participating organizations.
Thus, more powerful than the individual subscriber, more powerful than the editor, more powerful than organizations, will be the Truth.
Nevertheless, it is very important to select an editor who loves the truth more than himself, because through his editing of many articles, the selection of letters to the editor, and the arrangement of articles, he has more opportunity to inject his perspective into the newspaper than anyone else; as is inescapably true of every newspaper in the world.
As editor, he has the power (and the duty) to make each article clearly understandable. That means that even if he disagrees with the message of an article, he should at least be able to understand it. But for example, what a Shiite terrorist "understands", a Christian may not. Therefore, in the "editing process", or the process of making an article understandable, there will be times when the most conscientious editor will not be able to avoid influencing an article in the direction of his own perspective. How much more will an unscrupulous editor misuse his position to slant news his direction! Therefore it is very important for Sudanese organizations, and individual subscribers/voters, to hire editors committed to serving all Sudanese people equally, and who will be personally accountable to God when no one else is watching.
Payment. We will pay at the rate of ABOUT 5 cents per word ($5 per hundred words) for stories we can use.
(The actual rate we will be able to pay, especially in the first few issues of The Sudan News, will be affected by the number of subscriptions that are sold, how much advertising is sold, whether we receive government or corporate support, and how many other writers submit articles. If we cannot pay you at least that rate, we will send you a copy of our budget for the issue to which you have submitted, explaining why it must be less. But at least 5 cents per word is our target.)
Do not make your article longer, in order to get paid more, by adding words without interesting information about Sudan, because then we will edit your article down to what we can use, and pay you at a lower rate per word because of the editorial time we had to spend.
Documenting Your Sources. Stories the most valuable to us are first-hand reports from Sudan (where the author gets his facts from people in Sudan -- for example, by telephone -- who saw, with their own eyes, the events they are reporting).
We need not only your name (the author) but the names of the people who gave you your information. If they got their information from still others in Sudan, report their names too. If the information comes from a document, identify the document. When we cannot identify an eyewitness to a report, or document it, we may have to classify the report as a rumor.
When, for example, the author gets a report by telephone from someone in Sudan about a dispute between two villages, the Sudanese resident giving the report will probably believe one side in the dispute. Ideally, the author should talk to someone from the other side of the dispute, to make sure that side of the dispute is reported fairly. If this is not possible, then at least the Sudanese resident should be asked to talk, himself, to someone on the other side, and try as much as possible to understand their position, so that our report on both sides of the dispute is accurate.
How to use quotation marks: When you can remember the exact words your source used, (except that they are in another language), put "quotation marks" around them. When you are summarizing what they said, with your own words, do NOT put them in quotation marks.
Categories of writing. Your comments about facts which others have reported are not "news" but are classified as "letters to the editor". They are important, and will probably be published, but will not be paid for. If you are an authority on the subject you are writing about, so that your experience has brought you into first-hand contact with reliable sources, so that you yourself are a source of information whom other Sudanese turn to for "inside information", and your article reveals new facts mixed with your own opinion and analysis, then your article falls into a third category: "Analysis", or "Op-Ed". Our target for this writing is 3 cents per word. However, if your opinion takes little space and most of the space is new facts, we will pay 5 cents per word.
Form of article:
Your Headline should tell what is interesting about your article, in about 5 words. It is what you would say, if you were walking from one class to another, and passed a friend walking the opposite direction, and wanted to tell him the news but couldn't stop, so you had to explain as much as you could in a few words.
Your first paragraph should be what you would say if you wanted to tell your story to a friend far away, but you had to squeeze your story on to a postcard.
Your first half of your article should have the most important facts that will still be published, if the editors cut the last half because of space.
Grammar. If your English is not clear, get a friend to help make your article perfect. If very much editorial time is required to make your article readable, you will be paid at a lower rate. If your English is so unclear that we have to guess what you mean, we won't be able to print it.
Editorial Board. SNPR will help coordinate a panel of editors to review, select, categorize, and edit articles. They will not be paid, at least at first. It has not yet been decided whether they should be paid when money is available. An election of subscribers may eventually decide this, as well as deciding which editors should be paid. In such an election, SNPR will help provide information about candidates, in addition to information which any subscriber may submit. SNPR has a constitution which ensures fair access to all, and public accountability. If you are interested in serving on the board, you may contact SNPR through Makaldengny@yahoo.com.
Submitting Articles. Submit articles at www.Saltshaker.US/SudanNews.htm. Your article will be immediately available to everyone who has signed up with SNPR to serve on the editorial board. A few others may be given access by SNPR, such as someone from USAID, so that they may have current intelligence on conditions in Sudan.
As soon as an article has been edited and accepted for publication, it will be posted on the website, but only subscribers to The Sudan News will have access to it. If an article is rejected for publication, it, also, will be available to subscribers, who will have the opportunity to tell editors if they think the article should be published.
When an issue of the printed newspaper has been mailed out, any rejected articles will be made available to the public on the website. Two weeks later, all articles will become available to the public.
Submitting Photos. Do not attach photos, but insert them in your emails. 300K or greater is a good file size for a picture of one person's face, to make sure our reprint will be clear. If a photo shows several people or other objects, so that our reprint should be 6" wide or wider, then 1 mg (1,000K) would probably be necessary.
Portraits of faces should be clear. A black face which is a solid black silhouette with few distinguishable features, is usually the result of taking a picture of a black person against a light background with an automatic camera. The camera adjusts to the light background, and makes the face too black. This is corrected by either getting a camera with manual control over lens opening (which will then make the background a solid white, but that is less important), or by placing the person in front of a background the same brightness as his face. Clothes that are a different brightness from the face can cause the same problem. White people have the same problem in reverse: a white person, in front of a dark background, shot with an automatic camera, will produce a solid white, featureless face.
(For this reason, if you are considering hosting a speaker where some will want to videotape, try to get a background the same brightness as the speakers' faces. The best video cameras can tolerate only 1/10th the contrast that the human eye can.)
How the Sudan Diaspora News evolved,
and how it addresses USAID's plea
for Sudanese intercommunication
One could say the Sudan Diaspora News began with the pleas of peacemakers down through the bloody ages.
From the time that Sudanese refugees settled in the United States, there were efforts to unite them in a single organization. Some had the vision of meetings like their village councils in Sudan, where they would help each other in many ways, resolve disputes, study the Bible, and just about everything else. But as the first organization split into several small organizations, there began efforts to form "umbrella organizations" under whose roof the many small organizations could meet.
By early 2004, the latest effort to create an umbrella organization under which all Sudanese organizations would be willing to unite, adopted the name SNPR, for Sudanese Network for Peace and Reconciliation. However, they made it clear that they did not care about the name; what they cared about was the unity. If another name, or another structure, could be found which would better serve Sudanese unity, that is the name and structure they wanted. Malakal Dengny, of Lincoln, Nebraska, emerged as its coordinator.
SNPR laid the foundation for a milestone in Sudanese unity when the set a meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday and Sunday, May 1 and 2, 2004, and arranged for two men from USAID to speak to over a hundred Sudanese in the afternoon, at St. Ambrose fellowship hall, and half that many in the morning, where the focus was on Darfur atrocities, and many Moslem refugees were present. USAID has a considerable budget, and they want to help Sudan. But both men, especially John Marks, tried, in many ways, to explain why they could help much more, if Sudanese intercommunication were more coordinated.
Specifically, they said that a referendum in the South could be approved at any time now, and once it is, there are only a few months for preparation and campaigning. When that window opens up, there will immediately be many opportunities for Sudanese here to be very helpful. Therefore it is vital that Sudanese have a network of communication permitting USAID to inform them immediately of opportunities that arise, and it is vital that Sudanese have a network of communication permitting them to keep USAID informed of intelligence from back home, so they know if their peace agreements with Khartoum are being violated, where, and when. And also, so USAID has better intelligence on where the greatest needs are, and what those needs are.
Dave Leach attended and videotaped that meeting, and concluded that while John Marks did not specifically describe a newspaper, a Sudanese newspaper is exactly the medium capable of providing the network of communication which Marks pleaded for. He wrote the following article, summarizing the meeting and making this point, and shared it at a meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska a month later, chaired by Malakal Dengny. Malakal adopted the vision as that of SNPR, and has been assembling lists of subscribers ready to pay $50 per year for a newspaper that will give them the news they want. Here is the article, slightly updated: (It is structured around the "Who", "What", "Where", "When", and "Why" which American journalists say should be answered in the first paragraph of a story.)
June, 2004 AD
The Sudan Diaspora News
WHAT. USAID has requested that Sudanese in the Midwest become "organized" for the purpose of supplying USAID, and other NGO's serving in Sudan, with up-to-date intelligence on the atrocities still being committed in Sudan, the needs that remain, and whether efforts to help are effective.
USAID has also requested that Sudanese in the Midwest become "organized" in their sharing of information with each other, to the extent that when opportunity to help in Sudan rises, all Sudanese will immediately know, and be able to respond.
WHY. The only form in which such intelligence can be gathered and transmitted to these agencies is in written form.
The only organization of such intelligence which would be useful to such agencies would be written reports of individual stories, told in the style of a news article so that the headline and lead sentence, and first paragraph, progressively introduce what the story is about and why it is important. Individual stories need the "who" "what" "when" "why" "where" and "how" clearly laid out, so that officials who want to contact the subjects of the stories, to get more information or to see if the stories are really true, know who to call or where to go. At the end of each story there should be a phone number or email address where officials may request more information about the story than was published.
Published with the individual stories there should be a summary of the stories, and analysis of the lessons we may learn from them, from the perspective of Sudanese here.
The assembling of this kind of information is called "news". Once it is assembled, it is easy to print it on paper, so that it will be a "newspaper", or to bind it into a thin book, called a "magazine". Once it is printed in this manner, and distributed to 2,000 Sudanese in Des Moines and Omaha, it is not difficult to go to businesses and ask for money to place advertisements in the newspaper. The money from the advertisements could pay the salaries of those who create the newspaper.
WHO. Here is probably the only personnel structure which could make a newspaper work:
Some who write very well, and who have computers, could tell their own stories and submit them to the newspaper, which could print them directly. These writers will be paid, but the facts reported by unknown writers will be double checked. American newspapers consider it unethical to pay the subjects of news stories, because this would motivate them to make up stories just to get money. We will be mindful of this temptation, but we expect news at least as reliable as American journalists produce.
Some who write very well, and who have computers, could tell other's stories. People in this role are called "reporters". Reporters need some guidance, or training, though not necessarily very much; it could be on-the-job guidance. The only purpose of the guidance would be to help the reporter arrange each story in an orderly manner so that necessary details are not left out; and to help the reporter ask the right questions of news subjects so when he later puts the story in order, he will have the details he needs.
The person to provide this guidance is the "Editor". The Editor can be the reporter with the most experience or training. He/she decides how to arrange the stories, commentary, analysis, advertising, humor, or whatever else, in the newspaper.
Most American newspapers are owned by a single person, who then hires an editor who will make the newspaper say what he wants. But editors of newspapers operated by nonprofit organizations are usually selected by the board of directors, who are elected by the members of the organization. One possibility may be to try a formula perhaps never before tried, anywhere: elections for subscribers, in which subscribers actually vote for their editor, and for lesser issues. Thus the initial editor would serve until replaced by such a subscriber election. Under that plan, the pressure on the editor is not to serve the agenda of a single owner, but rather to serve the needs of the many subscribers.
Other positions do not necessarily need to have formal titles or staff positions. They can be informal, like in Sudan, where Elders do not apply for the job, and are not appointed, and often not elected, but among a group of people trying to help each other, one just evolves into the one to whom others turn for guidance, and later people take notice that this wise person is already functioning as an elder, so people start calling him an elder. In the same way, anyone could persuade a few businesses to take out ads in The Sudan Diaspora News, without first receiving the title, "Advertizing Executive". And anyone can send in a news story, and be paid for it, without being officially titled, "Reporter". But after someone has done these things a lot, and has done it well, the title will become useful for describing what they do.
Large American newspapers pay reporters a salary; in other words, their pay is a fixed amount, and not directly related to how much they write. But "freelance writers" are paid per word. Pay typically begins at 5 cents per word or more. Stories are typically 200-1,000 words, which at that rate would earn $10-50. A good writer should be able to write a 200 word story, where all they are writing is what someone else is saying and then arrange it into a readable order, in a couple of hours. (This contrasts with the work of journalists for large American newspapers, where a 200 word story can take a couple of days, because they don't know the information themselves but have to learn it from others, and then have to check with still others to try to decide what is true. Or the owner can declare what is true, and save them time fussing over facts.)
For a newspaper read by 2,000, a staff appropriate for The Sudan Diaspora News, and similar to the staffs of other small newspapers, would consist of:
Two reporters. One mostly interviews Sudanese and writes their stories, and perhaps writes a little bit of commentary and analysis. The other specializes in interviewing American government and charitable leaders, but he interviews Sudanese too and writes a little bit of commentary and analysis. However, at first, until the newspaper is financially stable, we will not officially hire any reporters, but will rely on freelance reports from Sudanese subscribers, for which we will pay.
One advertising salesperson. This person should receive a commission of somewhere around 10-20% of whatever he or she sells. This person should have graphic arts ability, to be able not only to sell an ad but make it look pretty. However, until the circulation profile is established, we will not try to hire an advertising executive, or rely on advertising for income. But if someone thinks they can sell ads, they are welcome to try on a freelance basis, for a commission.
Typically each reader pays a subscription fee that is only enough to pay for printing and distribution, and salaries are covered by advertising sales. However, we don't yet know if we can attract very many advertisers, because advertisers may see Sudanese readers as not big spenders, and as spread out too much.
If for example there are 3,000 subscribers in Omaha and 20 in Minneapolis, local Omaha businesses would want to advertise, but Minneapolis businesses would not want to take out a $200 ad to reach 20 people. To put it another way, if 5,000 subscribers all live in the same block, a business on that block will want to take out lots of ads! But if 5,000 subscribers are evenly scattered all over the U.S., no local businesses will want to advertise, but only companies with sales all over the U.S. This is a factor the advertising salesperson will have to weigh; a city with many subscribers will want an ad salesman in that city.
One editor, who corrects any mistakes, lays out the newspaper on computer, takes it to the printer, and prepares it for distribution. He or she will probably also write commentary and analysis, and may help out with the above jobs.
All American newspapers print a few short (50-200 words) "letters to the editor" for which the authors are not paid. Authors of well written commentary and analysis from 500-1,000 words can be paid, after the newspaper is financially secure. The Des Moines Register only has two or three such articles a day, on the "Op/Ed" (Opinion/Editorial) page.
WHERE. With email, reporters are able to submit stories from hundreds of miles away. But the stories of Sudanese in Des Moines would most easily be processed by a reporter in Des Moines, for these reasons: (1) a Sudanese with a story would most comfortably call a reporter he knows from social events and meetings; (2) communication would be either in person, or by phone; but even by phone, an hour on the phone can cut into a low-paid reporter's profits; (3) a great way to get stories is to hold meetings where several can meet and tell their stories to each other; in this way, they can learn from each other, correct each other, and have a broader, more interesting, more accurate story. (At such meetings, the reporter should be allowed to question the speakers as they talk, to clear up confusing details and get more details.) (4) Local meetings are very important and should be "covered" (reported upon).
But if there is a reporter in Des Moines and another in Omaha, and another in Kansas City, and another in Minneapolis, for example, there is no reason they could not all contribute to the same newspaper which could be printed and mailed from anywhere.
WHEN. The first step is to establish a mailing list of Sudanese subscribers.
The second step is to create a website equipped to receive articles that are submitted.
The third step is to collect subscription payments from subscribers, and publish the first issue!
ADDITIONAL USES OF A NEWSPAPER. Sudanese would treasure copies of their own stories in print, so that years later they could read them again and remember the details; and so their children could grow up and read them.
A Sudanese newspaper could eventually grow to include a wide variety of information, from birthdays, weddings, funerals, sports, to weather and American politics, and all in English and Arabic. With the vision of distribution in Sudan, it could carry articles explaining how to build more things with the simple tools and resources available, in order to begin building the technology, infrastructure, and economy of Sudan.
CALLS FOR ORGANIZED UP-TO-DATE INTELLIGENCE OF THE KIND ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH A NEWSPAPER, BY SUDANESE, AS WELL AS BY USAID:
USAID has requested this information, pleaded for this information, and promised to put to very good use this information. Here are some of the statements made Sunday, May 2, 2004 AD, at the Neighborhood Resource Center, and later at St. Ambrose Cathedral, in Des Moines, Iowa:
Abdulla, Rashur's son, asked John Mark of USAID: "We get reports from our families all the time. But we can't support them as if they were there. How can we make this support more efficient? We have students here who can help, if you can use our help, in letting you know what is going on. We get daily calls from our families. We can dedicate our time to work with you. Together, not just for the South, or the Nuba, or Darpour, but for all of it. Is there time we can give? Work we can do?"
John Mark answered, "we will exchange communication and make a plan."
His associate added, "There are groups, mostly in Washington, advocating for human rights, who will make lawmakers and the general public aware of these communications, if you have some sort of structure for getting this information to groups like Human Rights Watch. One of the big problems in Darfur is lack of information."
Later John Marks added, "We want to develop a database. You need to get organized yourselves. When Darfur is secure, your work there may help."
Daniel Lock asked why it took so long for the U.S. to care about Sudan compared with Kosovo. John Mark's blunt answer: "The difference is the channeling of information and concerns through political channels.
Tor Kuet, from Omaha, said "We don't want the American people to organize us." This is an important idea on many levels. Americans should not be the ones, for example, to vote on the type of government Sudanese should live under. Americans may propose ideas for Sudanese organization, such as John Mark did, just as the Moslem government of Khartoum offers ITS proposal for Sudanese government over the South: Sharia Law! But it is Sudanese who should decide whether to adopt the proposals of foreigners. Sudanese should not sit back and do nothing, expecting Americans or anybody else to do all the work of organizing, funding corporations, hiring people to work at Sudanese organizations, etc. "He who pays the piper calls the tune", is an old American saying. Or to modernize it, "He who hires the band picks the songs." The Americans who pay for Sudanese to work together, dictate what they will work on. Even God cares enough about this, that He told His people not to ever choose a foreigner to reign over them! Deuteronomy 17:15. However, there should be no shame in hiring Americans to serve Sudanese, as long as Sudanese remain in control of how the service is performed.
John Luth said, "Be educated. You can write to any member of Congress and talk to them day and night. Most of your questions today were political. You are educated, and your educating of Congress has already produced much fruit. You have the power, but it will only take happen if you organize. Because in America, the voice of individuals is not heard, but of organizations. Leave your differences and organize. The more organized the better. If you organize your wife and children, that is good too. Let us organize, so that we bring not only John and Ted, but Colin Powell!
"For example, why don't you go to the Dsm Register and ask what is wrong with them that they don't cover our issues? We have 2 million dead and we sleep under the bed."
John Mark, at St. Ambrose: "We're not coming here with an exact plan or program in mind. The only thing in our minds is that here is a group of Sudanese Americans who have skills; there, in Sudan, is a need for these skills. So we need to be in dialog, and see how can we make the best use of it."
"(The foreign aid which we distribute is) supporting the Government of South Sudan. We're making the assumption that a peace process is going to conclude in a peace agreement for the South. Already, Southerners, your leaders are there working on this. This is something that cannot wait. Even though maybe there are certain security or political things which are not ideal, for allowing such widespread and even participation of everybody, but the clock is ticking. If this peace agreement is signed, perhaps in the next month or perhaps two months, there will start this six month period of preparation. And then we'll start the six year period. Seven or eight months is a very short time for this preparation. There is supposed to be a Government of South Sudan on the first day of the six year period. So part of our governance program is supporting the teams that are now working on what they call making the blueprint for ministries and such."
Mr. George, of SNPR, asked, "what can Sudanese in Diaspora do to be more effective for peace in Sudan? The U.S. Government should support Sudanese organizations like SNPR in working alongside organizations like USAID. (But this assumes SNPR will be organized enough to interact intelligently with USAID.) From the government, we need training, how to be effective citizens here and in Sudan." (Actually, U.S. government is not regarded, by Americans, as a credible source of wisdom how to be effective citizens. Americans who want to learn that, find effective citizens and learn from them.)
John Mark answered: "With regard to getting organized among yourselves, I don't want to put it in a political sense. Even if the plan is good, it is very difficult to even a good idea will not go forward if it's in bits and pieces. It needs to be organized."
Asked later what the role should be for Sudanese here, he was specific about the problem, if not about the solution: "A lot of things are happening, but who knows about them? There is no system for sharing information. We will be involved with SPLM so that information is circulated. Part of the solution is what is happening here, to share information? Here in Des Moines, and in Omaha? (sic)"
The obvious solution: The Sudan Diaspora News.
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