Correspondents, trustees and advisors held a virtual birthday party to celebrate News Decoder’s 5th birthday and to look to future challenges.

News Decoder has just turned five years old, so we held a birthday party.

COVID-19 oblige, it was a virtual party, over Zoom. Correspondents, board members and advisors marked the milestone on July 28 with a look back at what we’ve accomplished since 2015 and what we can do in the future.

What started as an idea during a walk with my two daughters gave birth to a not-for-profit that in five years has published 1,088 articles — and nearly one million words — and built a network of schools on five continents.

We will tackle the coming school year with 19 academic partners in 12 countries, mentored by 49 correspondents who together have a millennium of experience covering the world’s most intractable problems — oftentimes in dangerous places.

On the Zoom birthday call was correspondent Bernd Debusmann, who has been shot twice in the course of his work – once covering a night battle in the center of Beirut and once in an assassination attempt prompted by his reporting on Syria. His body still carries a bullet.

Also attending was Barry Moody, one of the midwives who brought News Decoder into the world and who since has contributed more articles than any other correspondent — just ahead of Debusmann.

There was Janet Hartman, former head of Greens Farms Academy — a founding academic partner — and now a member of the board of trustees of News Decoder’s governing not-for-profit, Nouvelles-Découvertes.

Participants welcomed our most recent hire, Communications Manager Tendayi Chirawu, and thanked her predecessor, Savannah Jenkins, who will be starting a master’s program in Paris later this year.

In the future, News Decoder wants to reach more young people.

Jenkins steered the birthday party participants through a quiz on News Decoder trivia.

  • What was the breed of dog at News Decoder’s first co-working space in Paris? (a Shiba Inu named Aika)
  • What story has received the most comments from readers? (“Asian flu v. coronavirus: A different time, similar problem” – 96 comments)
  • Students from which partner school have published the most articles on News Decoder? (School Year Abroad)
  • News Decoder’s mission is to help schools fulfill which United Nations Sustainable Development Goal? (Global Citizenship)

I’m often asked where I see News Decoder going. In the very near future, we’ll be launching a new design for our website, which will offer a better platform for our many voices around the world. Later this year we’ll be rolling out workshops on our publication process — Pitch/Report/Draft/Revise, or PRDR for short. The system offers guideposts that help students probe tricky issues and produce balanced, original content, while developing solid journalistic skills and habits.

Above all we want to reach more young people in more corners of the world.

Dreams can be revealing. “Where do you see News Decoder headed,” I was asked in a recent reverie. “We need to win a prize,” I replied without hesitating.

So I guess I’ve thrown down a gauntlet. On to the next five years and honors galore for our students and correspondents!


Nelson Graves is the founder of News Decoder.

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News Decoder Updates News Decoder fetes 5th birthday with eye on the future