January 18, 2006

A Publisher, But Not a Journalist

I haven’t been doing a lot of blog reading lately, so I haven’t been doing a lot of blog writing lately. I do try to read at least the top five from my blogroll daily, but it doesn’t always happen. And I have been posting stupid little snippets over at Around Carson, mostly pictures that I take out of the window of my car on the way to work. That’s not exactly earth-shaking journalism. But, then again, I don’t want to do earth-shaking journalism. That’s not what the site is supposed to be about.

There was a good guest article in Press Think yesterday by Debra Galant, who runs Baristanet. It’s all about the joys of running a hyperlocal website, and how sites like these aren’t trying to put the newspapers out of business, they’re trying to fill in the gaps that the newspapers miss.

These are the stories that people want to know. They still want to know why the pool is closed on a sunny August afternoon. These are the stories that you almost never get in the weekly local newspaper, which is typically staffed by 20-something journalists straight out of school and with no ties, or real sources, in the community. They also want to know if the hot new restaurant that just opened is any good, whether their neighbors are also furious about new leaf raking regulations, and why the 6:18 from Penn Station was being held up in Bloomfield, and not allowed to continue on into Glen Ridge.

Like my father, I’m a publisher. But I’m not sure I’m a journalist. Journalism is nonfiction. It belongs with history and politics and business and current affairs. I read, and write, novels. I’m more interested in why the pool is closed tight on a sunny day than in the town government’s master plan.

So everytime I read something like this about one of the hyperlocal sites out there, it makes me feel bad about dragging my feet on the back-end programming that will let everyone post to Around Carson. Because that’s when the party will really get started. And I don’t mean to say that there’s a ton of people out there just waiting for that part of the site to launch, enough that I’ll get dozens of posts on the first day, but that functionality really is the heart of the site. I don’t want the site to be just my voice, because, first of all, my voice isn’t that compelling, and second of all, I’m not tied into the community enough. I don’t know what’s going on out there. I go from home to work to home, and that’s a full day for me. But there are tons of people out in the community who are plugged in, who do know what’s going on, and that’s what I want to tap into. I want to build Around Carson so that all of them have a voice.

Plus I’m selfish. I want a site like this because the local newspaper, and their companion website, doesn’t do it for me. I want a good local site for Carson City, and there isn’t one, so it’s up to me to build it. I only hope I can give it enough momentum to get started, and then other people will flock to it. Becuse I definitely don’t want to do all the writing; I want to take the lazy route, sitting back and reading what everyone else has to say.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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