Founded in 1996 by Joyce Appleby and James M. Banner, Jr., the History News Service (HNS) is an informal syndicate of professional historians who seek to improve the public discussion of current events by setting those events in historical context. HNS carries out its work in three ways: by providing “op-ed” articles to the news media, by putting reporters and editors in contact with historians, and by trying to improve links between the journalism and historical professions. HNS articles are distributed to newspapers, to selected Web sites, and to the History News Network.
Although members of the press commonly include routine historical facts in their news stories, the public is rarely provided insights into the deeper historical issues underlying the news. To enhance understanding of the origins and significance of current events, HNS distributes to the general media short, reflective commentaries that bring historians’ knowledge to bear on issues of pressing public concern. Currently, HNS offers distribution for one-time non-exclusive use to 200 daily newspapers in 40 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Bermuda, and Canada.
Because reporters and editors, working under pressure of deadlines, seek information and advice on the origins and significance of breaking news, HNS also attempts to link journalists with historians who are equipped to assist them in preparing news articles and in understanding the historical implications of the events they cover.
Finally, HNS seeks to strengthen the often tenuous links between print and electronic journalists, on the one hand, and professional historians, on the other. It seeks to help editors and reporters understand historical resources, concepts, and contexts and at the same time to present opportunities for historians to learn the practices and values of professional journalists.
Directed by the HNS editor and advised by a steering committee of historians and journalists, HNS has no members, only writers and editors. HNS writers are chosen for proven command of their fields and the ability to use their knowledge to illuminate current affairs. All articles represent the work of their authors, not HNS, which supplies editing and distribution services only. All authors of HNS articles retain copyright in their works.