Once again, speaking in defense of those of us who publish original news in blog format:
Yes, we have cultivated sources. Not “just” the community members who kindly turn to us when they see a crash or a fire or a crime, because they know we will cover it NOW, but also politicians, community leaders, government employees, other ‘insiders’ who know we understand that if they feel something is important enough to check out, chances are it matters to thousands of community members, so off we go to dig in.
And yes, we sit through never-ending community meetings. Almost every night of the week. Some afternoons too. From design review, to Hearing Examiner appeals, to hearings scheduled just as formalities for some ongoing government process – buried in published public notices – and we go to City Hall and the County Council Chambers and the courthouse downtown.
We cover important stories that others don’t bother with. No paper in our area, big or small, saw fit to bother with a murder trial last year that started with a shooting in an area of our neighborhood where “that just doesn’t happen” and led through a story of stalking and self-defense, with the teenage suspect ultimately exonerated after a year behind bars. They all read our work so they knew it was happening and chose to ignore it.
I paid a reporter to cover it daily — it lasted a few weeks — even though at the time I couldn’t really afford it — just knew it had to be done and I couldn’t do a full day of court justice while also managing the rest of the site. Now, months later, we have the revenue to pay more journalists to work with us – freelance for starters but I hope more permanent soon – including two veterans whose jobs were cut at local papers big and small for $ reasons.
So, dear old-media folks who I understand are acting out of pain and fear – I have been through layoffs myself — please stop attacking and dismissing everything with “blog” attached to it – it is only a publishing format. If there is a specific writer you are upset about, call them out by name/site, but get educated and learn that the “blog” world has a surprising amount of REAL JOURNALISM going on, produced by REAL JOURNALISTS, and since some of us small operations seem to be showing signs of sustainability, this just may be the way a lot of REAL JOURNALISM is produced for the foreseeable future – you are welcome to buy a domain, install a CMS, and get after it yourselves, too.
–Tracy Record, editor/co-publisher, West Seattle Blog
(Seattle, WA, 650,000 pageviews/mo., 20,000 homes/businesses visiting at least once weekly)