Editorial Process for The Occupier

[Last updated: 12/30/2011]

About The Portland Occupier

Mission Statement

The Portland Occupier is a Media organization in solidarity with Occupy Portland. It was inspired by the Media activities of Occupy Portland’s occupation of public space, and was created to fulfill similar goals in Media space. It is a Media organization run by consensus, for the purpose of enabling and representing those who willfully participate in the act of being the Media.

“Media” is not just a type of information, or a particular style of providing information. Media is a continuously unfolding process of people representing themselves within a history that is current, fluid, and deeply important to those people’s continued human existence. It is the act of self-representation, and as the concerted actions of individuals, forms expression to and with the rest of the society in which those individuals exists. The Editorial Group believes that Media in this form is a human right. It seeks to provide the power of Media to those who wish to take up that power, and to provide a non-hierarchical, self-organizational model that best deploys Media’s function, understood as such.

Portland Occupier Consensus Process

This document is the result of consensus decisions. It can be modified by a consensus of the Portland Occupier Editorial Group, which is an open group.

Definition of Consensus

Consensus will be defined as 90% agreement of the people commenting on the proposed changes, given one week (seven days) notification via the Google Group before the final agreement percentage is tallied. Comments, agreements, and blocks can be made electronically, as long as they are done so to the entire group. A person may remove a previous block, during that week period.

Definition of the Portland Occupier Editorial Group

The Editorial Group is those who are on the Editorial Group email list (the Google Group). Anyone can join the Group, they only need ask one of the administrators. People can be removed from the Editorial Group by consensus, for these reasons and by this procedure:

– The person is disruptive to the editing process without substantially contributing

– The person abuses the purpose of the email list (which is Editorial tasks)

– The person violates the Portland Occupier comment policy in the course of posting to the email list

– Another action, agreed by consensus, to have been substantially disruptive and harmful to the Editorial Group and the continued functioning of The Occupier

– After the offending person has been warned twice about two separate incidents of the above, a member of the Group can propose that the offending person be removed. A consensus should be taken, via the above process. If, during the week period, the offending person continues to do any of the things above, they may be temporarily banned from posting by an administrator while the consensus period finishes. If, after a week, consensus to remove has not occurred, the person must be immediately re-instated.

– A person who has been removed may be readmitted to the Editorial Group after 30 days has elapsed, but a new consensus must approve this.

– A person may also be removed without consensus, if they have been inactive for 30 days. However, if they wish to be added again, the administrator should do so with no consensus necessary to approve it.

Editorial Process, and Why it is Important

Free speech is widely recognized as a human right. But the concerted effort of individuals taking up free speech together, forms Media, which additionally should be recognized for its multiplied effect on the power of free speech in society.

The methods by which individuals work together to form Media vary. The Occupier has formed a consensus model for constituting and maintaining its Editorial Group, in order to make its decision-making body as non-hierarchical and self-organizing as possible. However, the act of editing and producing Media is not always suited to consensus. Consensus maintains the non-hierarchical organization of The Occupier for the long term. But for the day to day task of producing Media, a different process is used. This process was approved by consensus, and can be modified by consensus.

The Editorial Process is important, because it maintains the quickness, the accuracy, the targeted approach, and the quality of the Portland Occupier. Even though it allows a smaller number of individuals to make quick actions in order to improve the Occupier’s publishing, it still requires consistent effort from the entire Editorial Group in order to function correctly.

Description of the Editorial Process in Steps

Submission In

Submissions currently in via email. The POC(s) who check the email will take the submission, and import it into Google Docs format (this would follow for other forms of submission as well). The Google Doc should be shared with the Editorial Group ([email protected]), and the permissions set to “edit”. Then, the POC will add the email address of the author to the Writers Pool Spreadsheet.

Workflow Spreadsheet

The POC who takes the submission will also start an entry in the Workflow Spreadsheet for the piece. One entry per Occupier post. (If the submission is a photo set, a group of poems, etc, the content that makes up the actual post is a matter of editing. Whatever compilation will be included as a single Occupier post ought to form the Spreadsheet entry.)

Be sure to list:

– The title of the piece
– The author
– The method of submission
– The link to the piece in Google Docs
– The Section in which the piece ought to go (chose the most applicable): Art/Fiction/Poetry, News & Current Events, Essays, Letters.


Schedule the publish date and time of the piece, though it can be tentative at this point. The idea is to give others on the Editorial Group an idea of how much time they have left to push it through editing.

We plan to set aside at least 24 hours for editing (see exceptions to this rule, below). Standard publishing times are 9 AM, 12 PM, and 2 PM, to take advantage of key social media readership times. Try to pick a time that has not already been taken by another piece. If all these slots are filled, consider bumping the piece to the next day, or re-arranging the conflicting pieces. If necessary, split the time slots to make another (e.g. 10:30 AM, or 1 PM).

Notify the Editorial Group

Send an new email to the Editorial Group with the link of the Google Doc, and the tentative posting date/time. Make the subject, “New Piece: [title]/by [author]”, or something close to that.


Editing consists of two different members of the Editorial Group looking over the piece, and checking it for these things:

– Spelling and Grammar Errors: self-explanatory.

– Flow and Length: ensure the piece reads well, with the paragraphs well-proportioned and ordered in a way that makes sense, with little repetition.

– Fact-checking: if the piece uses more than a few of what might be called facts (fact being what is not opinion) we might ask the author to provide notes for the piece. Hyperlinks to trustworthy websites are preferred (e.g. Wikipedia), and can be put right into the piece.

– Editorial Criteria: the Occupier is meant to be a voice for those who do not have access to Media, and is therefore intended to be inclusive, not exclusive. That said, in order to better support the role of the Occupier in continuing to be a successful Media organization for all its participants, we wish for all published media to follow these criteria:

– The piece must be the work of the author, who has rights to consent to publish it according to the Occupier’s Creative Commons – Attribution license.

– The piece must not be published elsewhere, in a form that is still readily available online

– The piece should be of a quality that makes it consumable to a readers (though not necessarily a “broad” readership)

– The piece should have a format that makes it compatible to a section (in that most pieces have a requisite place, and our sections are hopefully broad enough that even uncommon pieces may find their place, though perhaps not in the main headline)

– We do NOT edit authorial voice, or for content. If a piece is controversial, we might solicit a companion piece with an alternate take on the issue. But changing or blocking the content of a piece because it is disagreeable is not acceptable editing for the Occupier.

First and Second Edit

After a member of the Editorial Group has checked over the piece and approves it, that person puts his/her initials into the proper column in the Workflow Spreadsheet. The initials are entered only when the person has completed the edit. Until their are two sets of initials, anyone can (and should) complete an edit. A piece must have two sets of initials in order to be published. The author of the piece cannot be one of them.

Blocking a Piece

If a member of the Editorial Group finds that the piece cannot, without substantial revision, be made to satisfy the Editorial Criteria above, s/he may enter his/her initials in the requisite place on the Workflow Spreadsheet to block the publishing of the piece. The person blocking should also notify the Editorial Group of the block in an email, and summarize how they feel the piece fails the Criteria.

This would be a good place to remember the mission statement of the Occupier, and that this Media organization seeks to enable those who participate in the act of Media as self-expression. That said, an Editorial Criteria helps us do that better for all.

Once a piece has a block on it, as many members of the Editorial Group as can are encouraged to read the piece for themselves, so that they might answer how they feel about the piece and the Criteria.

In order to bypass the block, the number of Group members who believe the piece satisfies the Criteria must be 75% or more. In other words, after the initial block, given two sets of approving initials are already present, if another member joins to support publishing, that is 75% (3 for, 1 against). If another member also blocks, then another 3 must support for the piece to go forward (6 for, 2 against).

75% percent is not consensus. But it is an amount to both give one or two members sufficient power to block, and also allow a small group to bypass a stalemating member.

The goal is not to have close votes. The goal is to reach a consensus among the Editorial Group, and to have this consensus working to produce quality Media content for the Occupier. This method allows both members for and against a particular piece’s position in the Criteria to have processual means at their disposal to promote reasonable discussion of the piece’s merits, by blocking publishing until that discussion can take place. Members of the group can change their vote at any time, as the discussion progresses. The blocking process is only one of many means that the Editorial Group has to promote good Media, in conjunction with the authors, with the vast and dynamic layout and form of the Occupier, and with each other.

Draft in WordPress

After a piece has two edits signed off (and has not been blocked or has successfully bypassed a block via consensus or a vote override) the last approving member should import the piece into a WordPress draft. If that member does not have administrative access to the WordPress install, s/he should email the Group and let them know the piece is ready for immediate importing.

When importing, take care to maintain formatting as closely as possible to the edited version of the piece. Be sure hyperlinks are correctly inserted into the draft, and that they seem functional. After importing it to a draft, note that it was done on the Workflow Spreadsheet. Also make sure these formatting guidelines are followed:

– No indented paragraphs. One line break between each paragraph.

– Use italics or underlining for emphasis. Don’t use bold faced type. (Bold faced type can get broken with some CSS problems or browser renderings.) NO ALL CAPS, BECAUSE ALL CAPS IS SHOUTING, AND YOU DON’T NEED TO SHOUT ON THE INTERNET. WE’RE ALL RIGHT HERE.

– At least one photo should accompany the piece, as the first thing in the post. More photos are great. If no photos accompany the piece, use the OMPC Flickr pool to find some stock images. All photos should be uploaded to the Media section of the WordPress install. Do not link images.

– Author’s name appears in italics at the head of the piece, underneath the first photo, before the text.

– We do not publish bios with the piece. If the author’s position substantially changes the meaning of the piece, it can be included as a sentence somewhere in the piece, as an “Editor’s Note”. A contact email address for the author is okay, and should be placed at the end of the piece.

– Add the two categories for the piece. It should have one category that is the author’s name (add it if the author is new) and a second category that defines its Section. If the piece is either a Syndication or a Headline, that would be an additional Section category.

– Add tags. They are not necessary, but helps readers navigate our content. Add as many or as few as you wish.


The piece should be scheduled as soon as it is entered as a draft, as all editing should have already taken place. That way, the piece will publish automatically without needing any further attention. The piece can be scheduled as far in the future as necessary. Make sure to check the list of posts in WordPress to ensure no scheduling conflicts. Update the Workflow Spreadsheet accordingly.

Exceptions to the Editorial Process

Timeliness of publishing is central to The Occupier’s goal of being a media organization. Therefore, we see three exceptions to the standard Editorial Process: liveblogs, daily/headline reporting, and weekly columns. Each of these have a need for timeliness not fulfilled by the standard 24-hour schedule target in the Editorial Process.


Liveblogs are updated posts on The Occupier website, on the occasion of a major event or action at which new and live information as it unfolds will be exceptionally relevant, and covering this information will be crucial to The Occupier’s role as a media organization, working in conjunction with other groups like OPMC, Livestream, Web Team, etc. The decision to do a liveblog is made by the Editorial Group, and should be “curated” by someone in that group. The reporting that is curated to the liveblog comes from everywhere. Because the liveblog is overseen by a member of the Editorial Group, there is no need for additional editing, and it may publish live.

Daily/Headline Reporting

Similarly to the liveblog, important news needs to be published without delay to support The Occupier’s role as a media organization. Certain reports need to be pushed to to publication as soon as possible. If the piece can be reasonably agreed to be time sensitive, it can be published with only one, or no edits from the Editorial Group. Care should be taken to ensure that such pieces do maintain the Editorial Criteria, and as always, are proofread. This ad hoc responsibility to bypass the Editorial Process should not be taken lightly, and if it is abused, this process ought to be reviewed by the Editorial Group. If it is known that a piece of daily reporting is likely (for instance, if reporters are attending a scheduled event) the possibility of a piece should be noted in the Workflow Spreadsheet. That way, other editors will e able to schedule other pieces around this potential piece.


Daily or weekly eekly columns are approved by Editorial Group consensus (the standard 90%). Columns publish on a set schedule, and because of this often publish at the last minute to keep their revolving content as current as possible. Approved columns can bypass the Editorial Process if necessary, but should submit to editing if they have time. This ad hoc responsibility to bypass the Editorial Process should not be taken lightly, and if it is abused, this process ought to be reviewed by the Editorial Group. If possible, the editor in charge of a column should add his/her piece to the Workflow Spreadsheet, even if the piece does not yet exist, and there is no link to a Google Doc. That way, other editors will be able to schedule other pieces around this potential piece.