Bill Hulet Editor

Here's the thing. A lot of important local issues are really complex. And to understand them we need more than "sound bites" and knee-jerk ideology. The Guelph Back-Grounder is a place where people can read the background information that explains why things are the way they are, and, the complex issues that people have to negotiate if they want to make Guelph a better city. No anger, just the facts.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Style Sheet for the “Guelph Back-Grounder”

The Guelph Back-Grounder is meant to be a long-form blog that functions as a resource for the Guelph Community. The idea isn't to build a regular readership, but rather an encyclopedia of information that can be drawn upon by the general public when they have questions about specific policy issues or political discussions. It is meant to be a corrective to two problems. First, with the decline of print journalism, anything that can't be reduced to a “sound bite” or a straight-forward “he said, she said” sort of story simply ends up not being reported. Secondly, this leaves open a vacuum which some parts of the community have no qualms about filling with whatever notions their ideology programs them to believe. As a result, there are lots of people with good will who really don't know what the heck is going on, and, others who are spreading total nonsense because they believe it “must be” true and no one is telling them otherwise.

This is not a good situation. I'm hoping that there will be enough demand for solid information that the Guelph community will read and support an object news source that fills this void.

Every news organization requires an underlying philosophy. And the Guelph Back-Grounder's will be the same one used by the BBC. The official government policy towards the BBC was "always tell the unvarnished truth and people will listen to it”. This has made it one of the cornerstones of British foreign policy almost from it's inception. In countries all over the world, people of all political and ethnic persuasions tuned into the BBC because they believed that it would not lie to them the way the propaganda organs of their own country usually did.

To this end, the Guelph Back-Grounder encourages---actually demands---that writers “give the Devil his due”. No matter how much you hate someone, if he does something that is good for the community, we want you to say it. And no matter how much you love someone, if she screws up, we want that said too. And most importantly of all, we want writers to use this phrase a lot:  “I don't know”.

In addition, submissions need to be written in a way that ordinary people can understand it. This doesn't mean “dumb it down”. But it does mean use lots of illustrative examples. Also as much as possible do not use acronyms---but if you do, write them out in full first before you use them again. As well, there should be references both to back up what you are saying, and, also to allow anyone who wants to learn more to pursue it. This is a blog, not an academic paper, but links show that you aren't just making stuff up. Try to make references to things on the Internet, so I can add links when I post your story to the Weblog. Wikipedia is an excellent resource for this sort of thing.

Portable Document Files (PDF) are strictly forbidden. We want the community to use as much of this website as possible. Removing the option of “drag and paste” quotes from the website guarantees that there will almost no word-of-mouth advertising through social media.

Graphics are encouraged, but we will only include ones that are either public domain or clearly allowed by whomever controls the copy right. As well, plagiarism will be dealt with severely---(as in being publicly outed and humiliated by the editor.) And nothing that could be remotely construed as libellous will be allowed---so no “anonymous sources say such and such about so and so”. If we do our job well with this blog, there will be “interests” who would like nothing better than to put us out of business with a lawsuit.

The writing style should be philosophical. That is to say, it must follow syllogistic reasoning based on evidence and logic. That is to say that it will follow the following type of structure. “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D” are the case. In addition it is also the case that “if A and B, then it follows that E is also the case”. And also, since we know that “if A and E both exist, then Z must also be the case”, then “Z” must also be the case. Many writers do not follow this style and instead make strong emotional statements without any supportive evidence. Indeed, almost all op ed pieces in the “lame-stream media” follow this format. The Guelph Back-Grounder only allows logical, evidence-based stories. If this is a difficult way for you to write, do not be alarmed, as the editor will be there to work with you to put it into this format. You have been asked for a submission because you have some expertise that allows you to understand some aspect of public policy that is important to your fellow citizens. The editor's expertise is in explaining complex issues in simple terms---together we will be able to come up with a useful document.

When the article is finished, it will be posted into the website with a “executive summary” preceding it. There will be anchor tags in the body of the text that will connect with the points in the summary. The hope is that this make each story very useful for anyone who wants to research any given issue. If you want to take a stab at writing the executive summary, feel free. But the editor will do so if none is provided.

If you think you would like to write something for the Guelph Back-Grounder write a short description of the story idea and why you have special insight into this particular issue. You can send it to Bill Hulet at thecloudwalkingowl@gmail.com.

Bill Hulet, editor and publisher, the Guelph Back-Grounder

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