Frequently Asked Questions

What is Zenger?

Zenger is the world’s first digitally native wire service. Owned and operated by journalists, Zenger is independent and transparent.

Zenger aims to restore trust in news, and to reward journalists and news outlets in a new way for producing stories that inform, entertain, and hold leaders and institutions accountable.

Zenger’s model is to reward its open network of journalists by sharing advertising revenue with the people who create the content. Payments will come electronically, arriving in days instead of months, and will continue as long as people continue to read the articles—akin to how actors receive residual payments for TV advertisements.

Zenger provides wire stories to news outlets with no up-front cost and shares advertising revenue with them. Instead of subtracting from their bottom line and deepening a struggling industry’s challenges, Zenger adds to their top line.

Zenger is dedicated to bringing high-quality news content to overlooked communities, and promotes the broadest possible variety of voices and subjects.

Zenger is a product of Z News Service, Inc., a Delaware Corporation. The majority of shares are held by journalists who work for Zenger. The minority shareholders include investors and funds in Paris, London, New York, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. No shareholder is involved in campaigns, lobbying, politics, government or any other topic Zenger covers.

FOR REPORTERS, EDITORS, PHOTOGRAPHERS AND VIDEOGRAPHERS

What is Zenger interested in publishing?

Zenger has no party line or partisan orientation, and does not select stories on the basis of whether it hurts or helps any particular party or politician. So we are open to verifiable stories on any topic that would interest, educate or entertain a general reader.

Zenger focuses on news. It does not publish opinion, essays, press releases, fiction, listicles, self-help, personal advice or memoirs. Zenger does not engage in story aggregation or publish stories that are principally based on other news outlets’ reporting.

Zenger strictly prohibits the use of anonymous sources, even at the risk of not being able to report some stories quickly, or at all. Every story Zenger publishes includes only named sources.

How do independent reporters pitch you on stories?

Reporters pitch Zenger via an online pitch form where they propose a topic, suggest a timeframe for filing, and describe the sources they plan to contact. Zenger’s editors can accept the pitches, reject them or communicate with reporters with directions and requests for clarification, just like any other editor.

Please treat the pitch form as your best friend. Drawn from research conducted by the University of California Berkeley. it asks you to list the elements of your story idea that are most likely to engage readers. The pitch form will help you think through a story before you write it, and give you a good idea of what we’re looking for.

How do independent editors get their assignments?

Zenger matches independent editors with stories that intersect with their areas of expertise, and offers articles to them along with editing deadlines. At least two editors edit every story.

What is Zenger’s editing philosophy?

Based on the editorial standards of The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, Zenger seeks to provide a consistent reader experience in which thoughtful sources on both sides of a story’s central conflict are presented fairly and accurately.

A reader should come away from a Zenger story with enough information to argue both sides of a question and see what facts or arguments are driving a debate. It promotes understanding; it doesn’t prosecute or defend.

The lede requires the most work from our editors. We aim to seize the reader’s attention in the first 17 words and vividly present the central conflict in a way that’s engaging, surprising or amusing.

A reader should know, from the lede alone, what the central conflict is and who are the main characters on each side of it. It should use simple and striking words, not jargon, arconyms or cliché.

Every Zenger story must include characters (real-life people on both sides of an issue who are interesting and distinct); conflict (a live issue that is now dividing the public, officials, experts or participants); and context (the history of the conflict, the physical and emotional setting and motivations of the characters).

Does Zenger own the rights to the work I file for publication?

Yes. Everything filed with Zenger is a “work for hire,” meaning Zenger purchases all rights to it. However, stories, photographs and video continue to earn revenue for their creators forever.

I live and work in California. Does AB5 limit how many stories or photographs I can provide Zenger?

Unfortunately, yes. AB5 restricts independent reporters, editors, photographers and videographers who live or work in California, allowing them to provide no more than 35 pieces of content to an individual news outlet during a calendar year. In order to be absolutely certain that Zenger doesn’t run afoul of the law, its California-based content creators are limited to 30. We regret this, but we don’t make the laws.

Are you hiring any full-time salaried journalists?

Yes. Zenger is speaking to journalists in Washington, D.C. to staff a professional bureau that will cover national politics and government in the nation’s capital. This will include White House and congressional correspondents, along with reporters covering various Cabinet agencies and departments.

We are also looking for New York-based reporters to cover financial markets on a full-time basis, as well as a select number of foreign correspondents to cover some national capitals.

I’m a journalism student. Are there opportunities for me to file stories, photographs or video?

Yes. Zenger is happy to help journalism students grow their portfolios, subject to the same high editorial standards applied to working professionals. They are paid the same way.

I don’t live in the United States. Can I participate?

Yes. Zenger now has correspondents, editors and photographers in more than 100 countries. Zenger aims to deliver stories from all over the world and welcomes journalists and photojournalists who are based in any foreign nation. Most stories are filed, edited and distributed in American English.

We partner with paydesk, a London-based platform, to quickly pay non-U.S. freelancers in their chosen currencies and at their chosen banks. Please register with them so we can pay you without any needless delays.

How much does Zenger pay for stories, photographs and video footage?

At this time payment rates are negotiated at the time Zenger accepts a pitch. Please contact [email protected] with questions.

In the coming months Zenger plans to shift to a revenue-share model in which journalists receive a fixed percentage of advertising revenue earned by their content. It’s our intention to make this change when the financial result will be better for our contributors than negotiated flat fees.

Where will my work appear?

Zenger is a wire service that distributes news stories and images to online and traditional news outlets that serve nearly 1 billion readers across the United States and the world.

Among our current content partners are Apple News, Google News and Verizon Media⁠—three of the Internet’s top five content providers.

We supply news to outlets including Newsweek, Yahoo! News, AOL, HuffPost and hundreds of urban and Hispanic newspapers and radio stations.

How fast will I be paid?

Generally, Zenger aims to make payments within 48 hours of publication. We directly and electronically pay journalists who live and work in the United States and have accounts at American banks.

If you live outside the U.S., America’s banking laws make it hard to pay you quickly so we partner with paydesk, a London-based payment platform that specializes in using its global banking relationships to pay journalists all over the world. Please visit paydesk and register so we can pay you seamlessly. We trust them, and you should too.

Either way we pay freelancers in their chosen currencies and at their chosen banks, and we generally aim to do it within days instead of months. That means no waiting by the mailbox, paper checks or bank delays.

We understand the frustration freelancers face. Our founders were freelancers once too. We designed Zenger to replace the most painful parts of independent journalism with something better.

If you have questions about payment or tax issues, please email our CFO, Paul Mansky.

If I encounter a problem related to registration, pitching stories or some other feature of Zenger’s software, who should I contact?

Please email [email protected] to reach our technical support team. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

FOR ADVERTISERS

How can I learn more about advertising with Zenger? 

We have an online overview of our advertising services that’s a terrific starting point, but sometimes it’s just easier to speak to someone. It’s easy (really!) to get started: Email or call us and one of our consultants will walk your through the process. And contact us if you have a brief or an RFP for your campaign that you’d like us to respond to. You can find our media kit here.

What creative sizes does Zenger accept?

We take the most popular IAB sizes. A full list is part of our advertising services overview, which you can see here.

Can Zenger help me with my ad creative?

Yes. Our in-house creative team has extensive capabilities and experience. If you’re looking for rich media, video or highly personalized and geotargeted ads, Zenger can help. Please click here to learn more.

What audiences can Zenger help me target?

Zenger can target your campaign to specific audiences, and contextually, through both keywords and content-matching. Because we are partnered with two of the largest groups of African American and Hispanic news outlets, we have particular expertise at reaching these fast-growing segments of American news consumers. Please click here to learn more.

How much does it cost to advertise?

Display ads or video ads require a minimum budget of $35k.

FOR MEDIA REPORTERS

How do Zenger’s editorial standards measure up against those of more traditional media outlets?

Zenger meets or exceeds the high standards set by the world’s most successful news publishers, including rigorous editorial review involving at least two editors.

In addition, Zenger provides an unprecedented level of transparency by banning unnamed sources and requiring photos of interview subjects.

Why have you banned anonymous sources?

Today’s news industry is focused more than ever on breaking stories before the competition, and that often involves citing sources who won’t attach their names to their claims. While some important stories throughout history have been broken that way, hindsight has proven others to be untrue.

The only way for the public to be 100 percent sure that reported information—especially words in quotation marks—are real is to tell readers who said what. Anonymous sources create distrust in the entire news media, and the President of the United States regularly accuses journalists of fabricating them.

Other news outlets will of course continue the practice of attributing specific words and less-specific claims to people who insist on remaining in the shadows. At the point where other sources are willing to publicly stand by similar information, we’ll report it.

What’s your corrections policy?

Zenger News invites factual corrections from the public and promptly corrects all published errors of fact brought to its attention, noting clearly both the error and the remedy and the date and time the correction was issued. Corrections triggered by an editor’s error are identified that way. Zenger also forwards all corrections to syndication partners immediately. All corrections are approved by the executive editor; some involve consultation with legal counsel.

Corrections will generally follow this format:

Correction: Month date, year, 00:00 AM/PM [Exact time correction is posted]
“An earlier version of this article misstated Zlatko Kovach’s status when he arrived in the United States. He was a student, not a refugee. Zenger regrets this error.”

Who are your principal owners and senior executives?

Zenger’s holding company is Z News Service, Inc., a Delaware corporation. It is backed by a consortium of tech investors from London, New York, Paris, Salt Lake City and San Francisco, who collectively own a minority of the company. The founders and employees hold the remainder. Journalists own a majority of the company’s shares. None of Zenger’s investors or managers, nor members of their immediate families, have donated to political campaigns or are actively involved in politics in any nation, nor are they employed by any government, union or interest group. In no case are investors, advertisers or non-editorial employees involved in editorial decisions.

What is Zenger’s basic business model?

Instead of collecting massive subscription fees that add to publishers’ and broadcasters’ financial pressures, Zenger earns money by selling ads and delivering them embedded in articles. And when news outlets publish the stories, they collect a share of the revenue. That incentive gives Zenger the potential for worldwide distribution on a large scale, and provides revenue shares for writers, editors and photographers that continue forever.

FOR READERS

Why does the world need another news wire?

The world’s two dominant news wires, the Associated Press and Reuters, are both a quarter-century older than the light bulb. Zenger is an effort to bring the concept of a wire service into the modern age.

Cash-strapped newspapers and other publishers pay wire services millions of dollars for stories and photographs from places where they don’t have journalists. Zenger gives it all away. And because every article comes with advertisements already attached, news outlets earn money by publishing these stories online. Zenger gives them a cut.

With that money they can do a wide variety of things, including stopping staff cuts that continue to gut newsrooms and threaten local community reporting. They can also re-hire journalists who are being laid off by the thousands as money gets tighter and tighter.

So while the world is already awash with news outlets, jobs are getting harder and harder to come by. Zenger was conceived and founded by journalists, and we’re putting our colleagues back to work.

Is Zenger the “Uber of the news business”?

In some ways that’s accurate. The gig economy has changed how people earn money doing everything from driving to assembling furniture. About 56.7 million Americans are choosing this part-time work, according to the Freelancers Union.

Some journalists want full-time work, and we want publishers to be equipped to hire them. But others would rather plan their reporting, editing and shooting around their schedules, and freelance work performed by non-employees has always been a robust feature of the news business.

Unlike Uber, though, we don’t publish stories from just anyone with a clean driving record. Our stable of independent professionals includes award-winners and veterans of the most respected companies in news.

What does the name “Zenger” mean?

Zenger takes its name from John Peter Zenger, an 18th Century printer whose New York newspaper exposed misconduct by England’s governor. He was jailed for eight months and prosecuted in 1735 for libel, which at the time was defined as any criticism of the Crown.

He freely admitted publishing the scathing newspaper pieces, but a jury of his peers acquitted him—declaring that the truth is an absolute defense to libel. It would be another half-century until James Madison wrote the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but by then journalists’ freedom to speak truth to power was already baked into America’s cake.

We stand on John Peter Zenger’s shoulders. So does every other journalist in the United States. 

FOR INVESTORS

I’m interested in investing in Z News Service, Inc. How do I receive financial information about the company’s performance and projections?

To review the prospectus, and to view quarterly statements and other financial reports, please contact our chief financial officer Paul Mansky at [email protected].

At this time the company is not interested in receiving proposals from venture capital firms, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds or similar investment vehicles. Also, potential investors will undergo background checks akin to the kind investors typically conduct on founders.

If your principal source of income, or profession, is lobbying or working for any government or serving in any elected office, we respectfully are not interested in receiving inquiries from you about any form of investment participation in Z News Service, Inc.