As 2020 comes to an end, let’s look at how this year went for the UK Defence Journal.
We’ve implemented new submission guidelines, we’ve started using a proper comment system allowing people to discuss articles, we’ve started publishing a great deal more analysis pieces from a wide range of people from enthusiasts to serving and former personnel.
We’ve been cited in Parliament, by think tanks and even in academia. Members of our team have appeared on TV, radio and other formats to discussion current events and, up until the pandemic, we continued to attend industry events and receive invites from the armed forces to have a look at new kit or what it is that they do.
We’ve managed all of this with zero outside funding. We spend our own money on the website, on travel and on any other costs.
We’re not a company and we’re not a business, we’re a loose association of writers putting work into the website as and when we have the time to do so.
The UK Defence Journal has no affiliation to any party or political group, our members are drawn from across the political spectrum and we’re very proud of that.
What is the purpose of the UK Defence Journal?
Our name is important to who we want to be, the Oxford English Dictionary defines a ‘Journal’ as: “A newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity”.
I personally believe that we can work harder towards meeting that definition in a more professional way, despite being volunteers. We pride ourselves on being a team of volunteers, we’re not paid or funded by anyone.
Our team is composed of defence professionals, cyber security and international relations graduates, serving and former military personnel, industry specialists as well as everyday military and defence enthusiasts.
We want to provide daily news articles from a wide range of defence related topics and sources and we want to explain why that news matters in the grand scheme of things. Our goal here is to provide one place to find an array of different news items from different defence topics.
We also want to publish topical, high quality and well researched analysis pieces.
We want these articles to be accessible to Joe Public, as informing the public on defence matters is our primary aim.
What did we want to do with 2020?
A quick summary of our objectives for this year is displayed below, but did we reach them?
- Our first objective was that a wider group of writers will publish daily news articles with more analysis and opinion built in to them, as well as making sure we follow up tips and leads. Done – We’ve ‘taken on’ three new regular writers this year.
- The second objective was for the team to publish more lengthy and in-depth analysis articles on topical issues, aiming for at least one per month in addition to our news articles. Done – We publish an analysis piece at least once per month with no impact to news article numbers. There is scope however to increase this, so we will.
- The third objective was for the submissions process to be easier, making it clearer what we can and cannot publish. Done – We’ve created submission guidelines so people understand how it’s done and what can and cannot be submitted.
- The fourth objective was for our social media accounts to behave more professionally, arguing with trolls will stop. Failed – This needs more work, the temptation to engage with people is very high. Especially when we’re ’77 brigade spies’, at least according to some parts of Twitter anyway. This needs more work.
- The fifth objective was to remain politically neutral and only comment on events, such as referendums, when it’s directly defence related. Done – We now double check everything that goes out in order to make sure it’s neutral.
As said previously, our habit of engaging with people on Twitter intending to ‘troll’ us has to stop and also been reflecting poorly on our image. This will stop and instead become the domain of accounts created to correct defence myths and misconceptions.
Many have also pointed out we have a lack of writers, with most of the content being written by three or four people. While we do have a team of close to 10 people, the volunteer nature of submissions means they come in sporadically. To try and fix this, we’ll be putting out more calls for writers from a wide range of backgrounds.
2021 will see the UK Defence Journal refresh its look, increase the quality (and type) of content we publish. There are also a number of currently secret side projects being considered.
We will remain entirely free, there will be no subscriptions. We do have adverts and those are used to fund the website running costs, they don’t pay our wages as we all have day jobs for that purpose.
Whatever the next year brings, I hope you’ll continue to enjoy what we publish and I sincerely hope that you’ll let me know if you have any suggestions.
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all,