July 3rd, 2016
TSPublishing (USA) has notified us that they are providing a unique new website directed at Jehovah’s Witnesses, former JWs, and critics of that religious organization. The site, Jehovah’s Witnesses News Digest, will focus on the latest news about JW subjects and events from a wide variety of sources (http://jwnewsdigest.com). The new website was due to be online by August 1, 2016, but circumstances will move the date out to mid-October or early November at the earliest.
While the publishers acknowledge that many websites focus on the Witnesses and their controlling organization (the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and its many corporate identities), their new site will act primarily as an aggregator that highlights and then points to other primary news sources. In other words, it will be much like “The Huffington Post” and similar sites that do the same type of thing for reporting general news and world events.
According to the editorial staff, most “recent news” articles will introduce reported events and then point to the original sources. JWNewsDigest staff or guest contributors will write feature articles and opinion pages.
While Jehovah’s Witnesses are the primary focus of the website, there will be room and opportunity to highlight achievements and failures of both the Watchtower’s critics and the “Society’s” supporters.
The editorial staff will, for the most part, remain incognito. The Chief Editor/Publisher outlines their reasoning:
“Since we are primarily aggregators and only commenting on the news as reported by others, we see no reason to reveal the identities of most of our editorial staff. For some situations – such as when we might invite a guest to write an opinion piece or a special report – we may identify the author. The truth is that the choice of many JW critics to use pseudonyms is a common practice. What we are doing is nothing new or out of the ordinary and is accepted by most readers. For some critics and writers, revealing their real identities could cause harm and long-term effects to them and their families’ jobs and reputations. We leave it entirely up to our contributors as to how they want to be credited.”
Why, if the website is not yet completely ready, is the publisher making the announcement in early July?
“Websites take a few weeks – and sometimes months – to catch on with readers. Most privately run and narrowly focused sites require at least 90 days to get the attention of just a few hundred visitors. We think that by giving the site a 30-day ‘gestation’ period before the ‘official announcement,’ we’ll have a chance to test reader reactions and make adjustments along the way based on their comments. We sincerely hope that our neutral points of view on religious beliefs, politics, ethnic and gender issues will allow us to reach a broader and more diverse audience.”
When asked what resources the new site will use for its news and commentary, the publisher responded:
“While our sources may vary depending on the subject, we are going to try to search for a wide variety of editorial ‘goldmines.’ That means that we will focus first on public news sources such as newspapers and magazines – but also blogs, books, YouTube videos, and podcasts. We have the technology to grab material from almost anywhere – and we are willing to credit the sources. While some (the usual suspects) will criticize our methods and our objectives, we are confident that we can provide a single source – a “directory” of sorts – to a broad range of outlets for news and commentary. We will also ask our readers for their suggestions for more (and better) resources that we can mine and use to track the weekly news. We will include other JW discussion websites and YouTube channels. We will be searching Google and Yahoo News for article ideas. We will also provide a list of resources for our readers to research on their own. We hope that all of our sources will see us as being ‘a new way to publicize’ their own websites, newspapers, and books – and not as ‘information thieves.'”
The publishers welcome you to visit the site in advance of the official introduction date (Wednesday, August 3, 2016) and use the contact page to share your ideas on how to improve their product and expand their message. Just remember that the site is still under development until the official announcement date.