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However this isn’t working, because the var s is overwritten by each module.

If you mean that each sub-module/function will have access to s, then yes, that’s the idea. It’s how they share settings.

If you mean that other (unrelated) modules would overwrite s, then note you should be defining other settings vars for those objects. Alternatively (and this is my preference), wrap the whole module in an anonymous function expression so s has closure.

var NewsWidget = (function(){
    var s,
        Newswidget = {
            /*  . . .  */
        //  . . .
    return NewsWidget;