Our Standards

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How do we decide which outlets can join the OptOut network?
What do participating outlets get from OptOut?
How to apply

How do we decide which outlets can join the OptOut network?

The OptOut media network is a growing group of fully independent news and opinion outlets that publish articles and create podcasts and videos. We recruit news organizations we like, and we accept applications.

We evaluate every potential OptOut network outlet on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration factors such as its independence, accuracy, reporting style, labor record, and relevance to our users.

  1. Independence. First, an outlet must be independent. We define an independent outlet as:
    • Not owned by a commercial corporation or financial institution (ex. Verizon or Alden Global Capital).
    • Not primarily funded by one or a handful of corporations or corporate foundations. (An outlet that runs ads is fine, but if it is mostly funded by, say, Google or Facebook grants, it does not qualify.)
    • Not publicly traded.
    • Free of financial conflicts of interest. (For example, an outlet that covers the energy industry that gets substantial funding from an energy company or its affiliated foundation does not qualify.)

In addition, we review the funders of a news outlet to make sure they align with our mission. An outlet with substantial funding from, for example, a foundation that funds anti-labor activism would not qualify. Outlets that are closely aligned with partisan political interests also do not qualify.

  1. Accuracy. The outlet’s reporting must be accurate. It must not publish industry or state propaganda. If the outlet is an opinion- or interview-based publication, it must not promote or legitimize conspiracy theories or other false content.
  2. Labor Standards. The outlet must use fair labor practices and not engage in anti-union activities.
  3. Hate Speech. OptOut does not tolerate speech that discriminates based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, citizenship status, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected classes.
  4. Quality and Content. Participating outlets must offer strong original reporting or sharp analysis of important issues. The OptOut Media Foundation is committed to racial, social, and economic justice; thus, outlets we promote must not publish content that opposes these essential tenets of a healthy society.
  5. Relevance. Participating outlets must produce work that OptOut considers relevant for its users. We conduct periodic user surveys and accept feedback from app users to inform our content selection.

OptOut may at any time remove an outlet from our network if we determine that the outlet no longer meets the above standards. We evaluate network outlets annually.

What do participating outlets get from OptOut?

The OptOut Media Foundation is a nonprofit charity dedicated to promoting and assisting independent news outlets. We are in the early stages of fundraising, and as we grow, we’ll be able to make more services available to our network publications.

Here’s what the outlets that have officially joined our network get currently:

  • Potential promotion in our weekly newsletter
  • Participation in our Slack community
  • Option to help us test the app and provide feedback to help us develop it
  • An open line of communication with our founders

When the beta app is live, outlets get all of the above plus promotion in our iOS and Android apps. Our app allows users to follow outlets and, unlike most news apps, the individual journalists who produce the content. It provides web and social links for the outlets and creators and prominently displays ways to donate and subscribe to the outlets.

We will soon have the following services available to participating outlets:

  • Listservs that outlets can use to promote their work to the greater media community and to receive potential story ideas from relevant nonprofit and advocacy organizations
  • Ability to submit events to a public calendar
  • Ability to submit and search job openings in media

As we raise money, we will offer free communications and public relations assistance to select outlets in our network. These services will require significant funding, and we are working hard on grant applications.

How to apply

If you run an independent news outlet and think you’d be a good fit for our network, send an email to applications@optout.news.