ISWNE Extra is a closed group, which means that you will needed to be approved by a moderator before joining. However, the goal is to be inclusive and welcome all ISWNE members, potential ISWNE members and ISWNE fans and supporters with open arms. You can find the group at You will need to be a Facebook member to join.

While Facebook’s business model may be at odds with our own, it came to dominate the online market by being an excellent place for people to connect with each other. As such, avoiding using the best features of the site because of some of the company’s business practices seems about as logical to me as refusing to accept mail delivery because the post office can’t get your paper out on time. (In case it needs spelling out, I think that Facebook should pay publishers to monetize our content and that the post office should honour its delivery agreements.)

There are several things that I like about the small, but vibrant community we’ve created on Facebook. First off, it’s almost entirely social. When I brought the idea up to a few folks in Kentucky, I pitched it as a virtual hospitality suite. If you want to talk shop, that’s OK, but for the most part, we’ve been sharing what’s going on in our lives, jokes, photos and the sort of celebrations, both big and small, that friends do. When we do share things about our publications, it’s usually the happy stuff like awards won and papers purchased.

Who better to appreciate these achievements than a group of folks who’ve been there themselves?

It’s also become a good spot to post those random journalism thoughts and memories that, for those of us working either by ourselves or remotely from our colleagues, we can no longer share just by leaning back on our chair and talking to the reporter next to us. I know that it’s one of the things I miss most about no longer having a newsroom.

Most of all, it helps cement the relationships we’ve built with each other at conferences or on the Hotline. If I post something about speaking to students at my former high school, you may not comment or even react, but if you see it, you’ll have another piece of information about me. Maybe the next time we see each other, you’ll share a story about presenting at your old school.

When Gary Sosniecki posts a photo of Helen posing with an early-90s Mac they purchased for one of their former papers, we can think back on how far technology has come. (Or if you’re young enough, wonder how we ever produced a paper on something with less memory than a modern toaster.) And how can you not feel proud when you read that Ken Garner, Kyle and Jordan Troutman or Jill Binfet Friesz have decided to put their money where their mouth is and buy newspapers.

Facebook is far from perfect, but outside of conferences, calls and visits, it’s one of the best ways to stay connected and build a stronger ISWNE. Facebook may not be your favourite place, but if you’re going to be there anyway, you might as well make the best of it by joining ISWNE Extra.

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