Creative Commons FTW: How Alt-Weeklies Are Using ProPublica Content For Free

Did you know that you can reprint ProPublica stories in your paper or website free of charge?

In the past month alone, ProPublica content has appeared online in Boise Weekly, Creative Loafing Charlotte, and Gambit. And Orlando Weekly ran Lois Beckett’s, “How Microsoft and Yahoo Are Selling Politicians Access to You,” on the cover of its July 12 issue.

So obviously, some of you are already making use of ProPublica’s Creative Commons licensed content, but at a time of constrained budgets, doing-more-with-less, etc., it’s our patriotic duty to remind you of this valuable resource from a Pulitzer Prize-winning organization.

Orlando Weekly editor Erin Sullivan said it’s the second time she’s run ProPublica content in the paper.

“Once when a story fell through and I needed a quick and competent backup, I picked up a piece on nuclear plant oversight,” she explained. “This time, I was just looking for something topical and relevant to a general audience related to the national elections … and I found those two pieces by Lois Beckett, and they were perfect – well-written, interesting and an approach to elections coverage that’s a bit harder to come by.”

But what’s in it for ProPublica?

“ProPublica’s mission is to have impact,” said Mike Webb, director of communications for ProPublica, in an email. (You may remember him from such AAN conferences as Toronto) “Our goal is to hold people accountable and to have the problems we write about fixed. So we believe the farther our stories spread, the more likely they are to reach the people who have the power to fix these problems.”

Here are a few conditions to be aware of:

  • You can’t make edits to the stories, aside from style changes.

  • You can’t republish photos without specific permission from ProPublica.

  • If the story is being published online, you have to link back to ProPublica and include all of the original links that appear in the story.

  • “Even that was super-easy,” said Sullivan. “They actually provide a version of every story that has the complete HTML markup, so all you have to do is load it into your CMS (well, have your web editor load it in) and the links are in place.”

    Webb added, “Forgive me for saying it, but working under the Creative Commons license is a win-win for everyone.”

    Did you know that AAN has a partnership with Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate that allows members to reprint content? Contact the AAN office for additional details.

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