of the new operation include the Elko Daily Free Press
and Electric Nevada.
"The Rural Internet Wire Service will
allow those of us with an interest in news outside the
state's population centers to exchange information of
interest to our readers," said Free Press editor
"Using the Internet, subscribers to RIWS
will be able to exchange news articles and graphics, as
well as receive articles written especially for the
In a letter sent to other Nevada editors and
news directors earlier this month, Steninger outlined
some similarities and differences RIWS will have to the
AP news service.
"Just as with the Associated Press wire,
subscribers will be able to place their articles on the
wire and bring in the articles that interest them from
"RIWS will be different in that the focus
will be on news with importance to rural Nevada, plus,
all the stories placed on the service by our newspapers
and RIWS correspondents will be available to every
"There won't be anybody deciding which
articles are worthy and which aren't. That will be left
up to you," he told the editors.
Electric Nevada editor Steve Miller
said that the Associated Press tends to function like a
'sinkhole' for a lot of news from rural communities.
"It's not anything really intended,"
he said. "It's just that the economics of AP's
business mean that AP needs to devote most time and
resources to what best serves the big-city papers.
"That means news put on the AP wire by
rural papers often won't be sent out to papers in general
unless it appears it would be interesting for city
readers. And thus it may not even get transmitted out to
other rural papers."
Miller said it was because Electric Nevada
focuses on stories of special interest to folks living in
the High Desert that the need for the rural wire first
"We saw there wasn't that much regional
news reporting aimed directly at the concerns of rural
readers, and thought there had to be a better way.
"It dawned on us that the papers in these
areas all have readers who are employed in ranching,
mining and agriculture and face common issues, such as
today's much more militant federal agencies."
Miller said he expects the long-run effect of
the wire service, and the Internet, to be a rural Nevada
that is more integrated -- within itself and with the
rest of the state.
"When you have the rural papers across
the state easily communicating back and forth, sharing
information and discussing common problems," he
said, "it has to eventually mean better informed
readers in all those different rural communities.
"Once that happens, I'd tend to expect
some kind of sea-change
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in the consciousness of the entire rural
community, statewide, followed by a change in the ongoing
dialogue between the 15 counties of rural Nevada and the
two of Clark and Washoe."
A big reason why Miller expects rural news
operations to sign on with RIWS is that they all need to
"Good news reporting is always expensive
-- it takes time and energy and therefore money. It's
rarely cost-effective for one small rural paper to pour
in a lot of resources to fully cover a regional story.
"But if that paper has access to a market
of other papers with similar needs -- papers which
might be inclined to pay a small fee to reprint such a
story -- then the situation could be different," he
said. "We'll just have to see how well reporting
like this gets supported by the marketplace."
Ty Chamberlain, general manager for RIWS, says
another way the wire service will help the bottom line of
subscribing news firms is simply by providing a great
amount of news at very low cost.
"For less than the cost of one reporter's
salary for one day, they'll be receiving a tremendous
amount of news over the course of a month," he said.
Chamberlain expects a large number of
freelance writers, reporters and even illustrators to
eventually join the service in order to be able to offer
for-fee work in the RIWS marketplace.
If writers or illustrators or photographers
have some work they would like to sell to rural editors,
he said, they can put a synopsis or thumbnail of it on
the wire, with a suggested price, and see if there are
Chamberlain also expects the editors and news
directors to solicit work from writers and artists on the
service -- announcing custom work they need and for which
they would pay.
"The beauty of the system," he says,
"is that a subscriber can send out a message saying
that he or she wants a particular kind of story, photo,
graphic, etc. The message is then received by everyone on
the service and can be replied to at the speed of light.
"An example would be a message stating
that 'I need a political cartoon of the current situation
in Such-and-such City, referencing the local board of
supervisors.' I send the message out and get a reply that
Paul, the cartoonist, can do the piece for $100, and
attached is a quick sketch of the idea. I look at it,
like it and order it."
Chamberlain says the service has three
different subscription levels -- one for free-lance
writers and artists, another for papers with a
circulation base under 20,000, and a third for papers
larger than that.
For the first 90 days of the service -- dating
from the middle of October -- there is no sign-up fee, he
Chamberlain and the RIWS can be reached at
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