As a blessedly safe, quiet holiday weekend closes, a few bits of WSB news to share – and a request.
First, if you didn’t see our note in the WSB Forums: We are proud to announce the latest award for WSB, because this one, like the national award last fall from the Online News Association, is much more about you than about us. When the Society of Professional Journalists announced its Regional Awards last weekend, WSB was honored for Best Online Community Engagement. (We’d drop that last word and simply say, Best Online Community … or maybe drop the “online” too!) Tough competition – our friends at KING 5 came in 2nd; 3rd-place honors went to Amy Duncan for MyGreenLake.com, who presents news and information earnestly and thoroughly to, and with, her neighborhood. What was taken into account for this award was your participation and how we work together – comment threads that so often yield new information about stories; news that is a collaboration between your notes/tips and our research; user-to-user WSB Forums; the neighbor-alerting-neighbor heart of West Seattle Crime Watch coverage. Your daily involvement and caring is often breathtaking. (P.S. The SPJ awards also included one for our partners at the Seattle Times on behalf of a project with which we were involved, special coverage of the graffiti-vandalism problem – celebrated with an Innovation Award.)
Second – We are overdue in telling you about a nationwide grassroots campaign we have helped found, Authentically Local. We are founders along with more than two dozen other independent, community-collaborative, local online-news publishers around the country. We all decided to start it because our “industry” is currently under siege from megacorporations that are moving into communities with one-size-fits-all operations to try to templatize and commoditize neighborhood news/information. The attraction for them is twofold: Once they have hundreds of sites, they can sell space to the highest-bidding national advertiser, and/or try to save their own failing old-media businesses through amassing small-business ads. But Authentically Local isn’t just an awareness campaign for those of us who do news; our counterparts in New Jersey at the nation’s first successful grass-roots independent online-news site, Baristanet, who hatched the idea, have suggested it might be appropriate for other types of businesses too. Check it out here.
To the localism point, two links that might be of interest. Your editor here offered perhaps-radical thoughts in a recent interview with Street Fight Magazine, a new national online publication looking at the “business of hyperlocal” (the latter is the shop-talk term for “neighborhood”; we don’t like it, so we don’t use it). And the inherent localism of WSB has drawn attention across the Atlantic: Gretchen sent a note pointing to this Financial Times (London) article about a wave of “localism” sweeping Britain – it seems some aspects of what we take for granted in civic life are wholly new ideas there. The sidebar story to the right of the main text column leads off, for some reason, with a quick summary of “Localism, Seattle style,” with WSB as exhibit A – noting recent WSB discussions on schools and transportation, and commenters’ tendency to question authority.
NOW, OUR REQUEST FOR YOU: Four questions we’d love to have you answer, if you can spare a few minutes, as we look to the future. Your answers can be short, long, or somewhere inbetween – just go here. Thanks in advance!