After collecting some feedback from our readers and other defence commentators, we’ve decided to make some changes.
The UK Defence Journal started in 2014 and hasn’t changed much, despite the reach of this platform growing significantly in that time. It’s time for a change.
First of all, who are we?
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’re not a company and we’re not a business, we’re a loose association of writers putting work into the blog 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.
What is the purpose of the UK Defence Journal?
We want to provide daily, accurate news articles and we want to explain why that news matters in the grand scheme of things. 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.
In addition to the website, we’re also looking into resuming our quarterly download of properly formatted and edited articles, our own little journal if you will. This however is dependant on the time it takes to produce.
What are the issues and how are they going to be fixed?
We were often rightfully criticised for relying on press releases for our news articles, which in and of itself isn’t wrong however we would often provide only the bare of minimum commentary (if any) and not elaborate upon why the information matters, which is poor practice and very unprofessional. This will change, we’ll be going for quality over quantity and limiting the number of articles published per day to ensure commentary can be added at an appropriate depth and to ensure we do not become a press release echo chamber.
We’ll also be focusing more on investigating stories and following up tips, building on success we’ve had in the past by breaking news stories that received nationwide attention.
Our habit of arguing with people on Twitter has 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 one or two 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 and making submissions easier, including a new set of submission guidelines and a house style guide to cut down on the editing time.
A common suggestion we receive on how best to improve the website is the return of articles featuring image galleries and video clips, that’s easy to do and will now return.
A quick summary of our objectives that will be followed by myself and the whole team have been agreed and follow below.
- Our first objective is 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.
- The second objective is 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.
- The third objective is for the submissions process to be easier, making it clearer what we can and cannot publish.
- The fourth objective is for our social media accounts to behave more professionally, arguing with trolls will stop.
- The fifth objective is to remain politically neutral and only comment on events, such as referendums, when it’s directly defence related.
Thank you to all who helped advise on this matter, your suggestions have been truly appreciated and will be followed closely.