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Substance News emerging as major news service, and not a blog...

As October 2011 ended on Halloween, the expansion of Substance at the daily news and analysis service (www.substancenews.net) could be quantified. During October 2011, Substance published 109 articles on the Web site, along with more than 250 photographs, 90 percent of them original photographs taken by Substance staff members at the site of actions ranging from press conferences and school board meetings to massive demonstrations in New York, Chicago and elsewhere, along with a few police confrontations (the more than 300 arrests of the Occupy Chicago demonstrators in Grant Park, Chicago on October 22 and October 29).

When Substance first made its transition to a "Web and print" model in March 2002 (in time to publish the truth about Paul Vallas during Vallas's unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for governor of Illinois), the first five years on the Web were usually a "reserve order" posting. Most articles appeared first in the print edition and then were loaded up to the Web. Those articles (and that era) is still available at www.substancenews.com, the "old" Substance website.

With the "news" Substance Web site made its debut in 2007-2008, a new approach was taken, one similar to that of major newspapers. The news and analysis went up on the Web first, and later also appeared in print. A two-year period of adjustments followed, especially during 2009 and 2010, as Substance reporters began realizing the need to photograph and report the news and provide their analysis on a daily basis when possible. One of the greatest challenges of that time was providing Substance readers with the news and analysis from the monthly meetings of the Chicago Board of Education within 48 hours after the Board meeting ended. By 2011, thanks to the talents of the Substance reporting staff (especially Marybeth Foley) that objective was clearly met. In September 2011, when Chicago's "public" radio station replaced professional coverage of the Board meetings with ridiculous drivel (a direct result of censorship by the WBEZ Board), Substance became the only news site providing news from the Board in a timely manner.

While a redesign of www.substancenews.net is being worked on by Substance Web developer Dan Schmidt, the current site continues to provide the news every day, while the monthly newspaper, still in tabloid format, provides additional "content" in the traditional manner, and helps readers steer to the Web as well.

By October 2011, Substance was routinely getting more than 30,000 "hits" per day on the Web.

A feature that required some adjustments on the part of readers was the declaration by Substance that the site would not honor the conventions of the "blog." No anonymous or pseudonymous comments are permitted on the Substance site. Substance reporters follow strict rules in citing anonymous sources (the editor and reporter must both know the identify of the source, and the reason for "anonymous" in news and analysis reports) and can say to its sources that in 38 years Substance has never "burned a source." As November 2011 begins, more and more people are commenting in their own names on Substance, while those without the courage to stand behind their words remain at other blogs about Chicago and Chicago's schools.



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