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When launched in January last year, it was unique in its focus on social media platforms as a means for real-time reporting and live fact-checking.

Without a homepage (the URL initially redirected to Medium), published primarily to Twitter and Facebook, but also to other platforms including Instagram and Reddit.

With a team of around five people distributed across 10 timezones, covered major international news stories, such as the Charlie Hebdo shooting less than 48 hours after its launch.

However, in August's financial backer, First Look Media, announced it would no longer be funding the newswire, which suspended its operations on August 31.

While First Look still owns the rights to – including all the content and social media accounts – founder and editor-in-chief Andy Carvin is attempting to negotiate a way to keep the project going.

Speaking at the ONA conference in Denver on 17 September, Carvin and the team talked about some of the lessons they learned in 20 months of working on the project.

On distributed platforms

The goal of "was to really serve social communities, and be a part of those social communities to identify stories as they emerged," said Carvin.

However, with such a small team covering a wide scope of geographical areas and topics, focused its efforts largely on Twitter and Facebook.

Carvin describes Twitter as's workspace – "our real-time feed of everything going on" – while Facebook was a somewhat "slower jaunt" through the daily news, given that its algorithm isn't necessarily the fastest way to distribute content.

The team also had high expectations for Reddit but, aside from a few projects on Reddit Live, found that they ran out of "head-space" to dedicate much time to it.

"Unfortunately we never got to engage the community there as much as we wanted to," Carvin said.

On sourcing stories

When sourcing stories and eyewitness media, deputy managing editor Kim Bui explained how was careful to always show "empathy" for the people it was working with.

While understanding of social media ethics is growing, not all news outlets are considerate of a potential source's safety and wellbeing in the event of breaking news.

For example, during the Umpqua Community College shooting in October 2015, dozens of reporters contacted one eyewitness for information while the situation was still active.

When it came to requesting information on social media, Bui explained how "didn't treat it like a transaction".

"It was always: 'We're going to work together on this, I'm going to help you tell this story better."

On graphic content was one of the few news outlets to not publish the photo of three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a Turkish beach last September.

As it did with many instances of graphic content, chose to describe the image rather than rebroadcasting it.

It should be noted, of course, that these decisions are not unique to, but rather ones that all newsrooms often need to make when reporting breaking news.

"Values played an enormous role in the choices we made on graphic content," said social journalist Marina Petrillo, adding that there's a balance to strike between protecting people and informing them.

Writing about the Aylan Kurdi decision, Carvin argued: "Maybe just once we could set aside these endless debates on what’s 'appropriate' to post online".

Update: This article was updated to correctly attribute a quote to Marina Petrillo.

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