Interactive, online publication launched for ideas, storytelling
Issue date: 7/8/05 Section: News
The publication will be headed by Amy Webb, through the Pennoni Honors College. She will serve as Editor-in-Chief.
Webb, a graduate of Columbia University School of Journalism, previously worked as a reporter for Newsweek in Tokyo and The Asian Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong. She also contributed to publications such as Budget Travel, Economist.com and Yoga International.
Dragonfire is developed by various professionals, including web designers, engineers, database consultants, writers and media specialists. It will host print, audio and video stories on news, politics, law, business, medicine and health, science, entertainment, and technology, as well as Philadelphia itself.
The publication claims to be distinctive in that it "slants neither to the left nor right but aims at the impartial rendering of ideas." As stated on its Web site, it will value "excellence in writing, interactivity, graphic and site design, audio/visual content and the convergence of digital media." The primary goal of the publication is to present readers with mature, appealing material without pushing definite political agendas.
"We're providing interactive content that you can't get anywhere else," Webb said. "Our content should provide the context for the news found in mainstream media sources. Interacting with Dragonfire, in many ways, should help the Drexel community better understand the world that's around it."
The online publication will also serve a diverse audience. Its online mission statement is to attract a "socially concerned global community that values ideas, international cooperation, and good storytelling." The Web site believes that its unique approach and level of user interaction will increase informed opinion and understanding.
"About half of our staff are Drexel faculty and students, and we're giving students the opportunity to get bylines to feature their interactive work," Webb also stated.
Webb will manage a staff of at least 100 writers who contributed to a plethora of media outlets from Newsweek to The Wall Street Journal, from The New York Times to National Public Radio, and PBS to Canadian Broadcasting and other major national and international news networks, according to the Web site.
It will publish every two weeks until January 2006, when it will switch to a weekly basis. Additional sections will include crossword puzzles, mp3 lists that students can download, and other innovative content.
Instead of just offering the types of news one hears or reads about every day, Dragonfire aspires to present stories that compel readers to interact. Another incentive it will offer is free translation of magazines and newspapers from different regions of the world, in ten different languages including Greek, French, Spanish and Romanian, and plans to add more languages in the future.
Each section will highlight a "Centerpiece" which will consist of between 2,000 and 6,000 words. The Centerpiece will act as a cover story carrying substantive material along with smaller "sidebar" stories. The goal of the publication is to offer readers refined, interesting material without pushing a certain political agenda. Centerpieces can include stories about news, politics, business, technology, science, medicine, culture and original works of fiction or other multimedia presentations.
Some examples of the sections include "News, Politics, & Law," which discusses cultural events, political achievements and discontents, and problems facing political conglomerates such as the European Union or North Atlantic Treaty Organization, "Business & Technology," which includes stories about current business movements in the U.S. and abroad that study both prominent and pioneering companies, a "Q&A" feature with business leaders, topics dealing with the Internet, web development, and other issues facing users worldwide, and the "215," a local section that focuses on human interests around the city.
Dragonfire will also feature columns that deal with subjects ranging from personal technology to law to wine. There are other columns readers should look out for, such as "@Table," which talks about the latest developments in the culinary arts, "Riders Up," which focuses on horses, races, breeding and riding as well as chronicling stories about renowned experts in the profession, and "1000 Words," which is a photo showcase that displays Philadelphia in pictures based on a theme. This column will also highlight an occasional interactive audio commentary
Visit www.dfire.org for more information about the online public and how to download submission guidelines, which illustrates each of Dragonfire's sections in detail and how to submit pictures and articles. In a way to bring the news even closer to the public, key staff members are available to chat via America Online Instant Messenger throughout the week for those who wish to ask questions or express an opinion.
Those who wish to submit stories or pictures should familiarize themselves with the Web site and its content, as there will always be new additions. Writers are asked to make a concise query on their pieces, including their location, format style, estimated word count and projected date by which the stories can be finished. Audio essays and commentaries should be three minutes or less in length when read aloud, and must not advocate attacks on gender, class, race or beliefs, be used as a stage for activists or politicians, or beseech funding nor make threats of any nature. Writers also cannot assert that their views represent a whole group. Additionally, no unsolicited manuscripts are being accepted for its "Original Works" section at this time.