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We’re slowing things down at The Daylighter

The Daylighter is going through some changes.

Our coverage model is refocusing on original content, and we’ve put our news-aggregation service on hiatus. It’s going to take six months to complete this coverage shift — and maybe more.

We’re in no rush.

One of the things we learned over the course of two years of news aggregation is that, really, it’s OK to take our time.

Where we’re coming from

From August 2018 through July 2020, The Daylighter published aggregated news briefs most weekdays, covering environment and ecology, human rights, economy, elections, corruption and more.

When COVID-19 swept the globe, we delivered daily and weekly coverage of the pandemic’s impacts worldwide — and how communities were learning to respond.

When the killing of George Floyd sparked a massive protest movement across the United States, The Daylighter was ready with ongoing coverage of race and society around the nation and around the globe.

Then, in early June, our aggregation editor Mark Bonta turned in a stellar, long-form report on #blacklivesmatter protests in his home town in central Pennsylvania.

Why we’re changing

On its first day on our front page, Mark’s original reportage — an insightful, sweeping portrait of a semi-rural enclave caught in overlapping economic, demographic and social-justice tides — got more traffic than a week’s worth of his meticulously researched aggregation items.

To this day, Mark’s original reportage remains one of The Daylighter’s most-visited articles — a revelatory thing for an editor to witness.

We love news aggregation. But producing a good aggregated news product is time consuming and can seem like a zero-sum game when you’re competing — on a shoestring budget — with multi-billion-dollar search engines and social-media news feeds.

This summer, we made the decision to shut down aggregation, and retool our operations to support a new program of original, long-form coverage of our core beats of human rights, democratic participation, accountability, environment, and local self-reliance.

How we’re changing

We’ll be spending the coming months finessing our mission statement and messaging, combing out our voluminous and overlapping list of categories and topics, and upgrading our website’s user experience and engagement technologies.

We’re also exploring “reader revenue” funding models, and will be reaching out to learn more about how that can work for our supporters over time.

Most significantly — we’re slowing things down. There’s no need to rush. Good journalism takes time, care, and attention to details.

We have time to build the brand and cultivate a high-quality information service — and we’re going to make the most of it.

Big picture, the 24/7 news cycle and the hyper-saturated attention economy are brutal arenas for journalists — and for everyone else.

Slow media for democracy

For journalists and editors, keeping up with the attention economy can all too often result in overtaxed staffers and cheap clickbait.

For news-seekers, a steady diet of doomscrolling, digital obsessions and compulsive clicking can be downright harmful to heart, soul and society.

Who needs it? Slow media is a healthy, civic-minded alternative with a clear set of principles that we endorse wholeheartedly.

So take five, cool your heels, and slow down with us.

The Daylighter will look more like a periodical and less like a news wire by the end of this conversion.

In the meantime, we’ll be posting new original material of all sorts every few months, including news features, op-eds, interviews, reviews, photojournalism and podcasts.

This includes a new Book Review that we debuted this fall with reviews of JoAnn Wypejewski’s “What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About #MeToo,” and Erwin Chemerinsky’s “We The People: A Progressive Reading of the U.S. Constitution for the 21st Century.”

You can always get the latest from The Daylighter by signing up for our newsletter, and by following our Twitter feed and Facebook page.

And — thanks for taking the time to read with us.

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