The rest of the story

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    There is one point about the WS Herald that people are forgetting. All of us are on-line ALOT (judging by the repeat posters I see). But when I have to do community outreach for events or issue notification, there is still a sizable population in West Seattle that is not online for their news. That is one service the Herald provides – communication to people who have not made the transition to computers (and probably never will) for their information about what’s going on in their community. So I read both and send information to both, just for that reason.



    Patrick the web site lists the room where the meeting will be held but it doesn’t list where the meeting will be held. No name of a building nor an address. Can you elaborate?



    Celeste – Sorry about that. I gave him the URL, as I have been involved in a bit in some of the planning discussions for that event. Bertha Landes Room at Seattle City Hall, 7 pm February 26th.



    Now, my formal comment here, picking up the relay from my co-publisher:

    We got a thoughtful note from a longtime reader tonight flagging this thread. S/he believed it violated the WSB Forum rule stipulating that you must complain directly to a business, and say what step/s you took to do that, before posting a rant about that business here, and as a result, s/he suggested that we close or delete this thread.

    I am not sure that is an entirely accurate assessment of this thread – what do YOU think? — so at this point we are not going to take that action, but we want to thank the person who e-mailed us for bringing up an important point:

    Whether you agree or disagree with what was written, please be sure to let the writer know about it. I would hope that if we wrote something here about anything or anyone, and you wanted to say something about it, you would say it to us, and not just go to that person/entity’s website and post about it there.

    As for the specifics of what was written, two things (we could say many, but we hadn’t intended to say anything at all until this thread forced our hand):

    1. Sue at #11 makes a good point. WSB is not mentioned by name. And in fact, the editorial also appears in the same company’s Ballard paper. That community also happens to be served by a growing, successful online neighborhood-news operation that, like WSB, is edited and published by a husband-wife team of professional journalists, collaborating with their community:

    We are proud to be friends and collaborators with My Ballard’s Cory and Kate Bergman, whose site was inspired by this one (or so Cory has said). The main difference is that they do not publish the same volume of original coverage you find here, mostly because Cory and Kate also both still have other jobs, but their coverage too is of high quality and high interest. Their site started to offer advertising a few months ago, so it too is a business, but we have the humbling honor of being the first online-only neighborhood-news operation in Seattle to be operating “in the black,” as a fulltime business.

    (A side clarification about advertising, by the way: Ours is not sold on “clicks.” We are glad to hear that the ad placement is useful in terms of helping direct you to businesses, and we link WSB ads to the businesses’ websites, since most businesses do have sites. But the model here is in fact the same one from which our print-journalism counterparts derive revenue: Display. An ad on WSB is seen. Seen 700,000 times a month, in fact.)

    #2 – Last but not least, I want to echo what Patrick wrote. There is a very important discussion going on right now about the future of news. We have been privileged to be part of it in several ways; we are frequently contacted by academics who are looking to sites like WSB as potential templates for other journalists to follow, as the jobs in the large media organizations – the type in which I worked for years – start to fall away. We are hopeful that in the months and years to come, many more neighborhoods across the U.S. will have their own independently operated community-news websites; new ones are appearing almost daily, and there are some that preceded ours, such as Baristanet in New Jersey, now in its sixth year.

    I had the opportunity to address a City Council committee two weeks ago, talking primarily about neighborhood-news sites and their role in the current and future news landscape. As CB points out, not everyone is online. One of the issues I mentioned to the City Council was the importance of addressing technology access. The paper delivery model is going to go away. Not in five minutes, maybe not even in five years, but it carries a great production and delivery cost, in terms of resources and manpower. Note the last section of the editorial you are discussing here.

    What I said to the City Council two weeks ago was: This isn’t about saving newspapers. This is about saving journalism. Others have refined it further to, about saving journalists. We are honored that you have found a place in your lives to support what two professional journalists are doing — with your collaboration, and with sponsors’ support — here, in the form of WSB. We hope you are also supporting the other sources that provide information you find valuable, whatever and wherever those sources may be.

    Again, for now we will keep this open, but we ask that it not be a “rant” or “bash” thread, but an open discussion, if anyone more wants to discuss the subject. Thank you!



    If the ONLY thing the Herald has over the blog is obits, would it be wrong to suggest that they be added to The Blog? Recently we have collectively mourned the loss of a fellow forum contributor,the young man who took his life on Alki as well as the victim of the shooting on California. (I apologize if I missed anyone.) The WSB is an amazing and living creation that is accurate and up to date. Thanks for all the hard work you have put in to this fantastic resource!



    Cruiser, I think the WSH is Great… to wad up and put in a box when sending fragile items in the mail!

    It sounds to me like there is no clear differentiation between a mere blog, unmonitored comments on random subjects, and the UBER Blog, news resource we have here. I think a new term should be created to make the distinction clear. Let’s brainstorm and come up with a few.



    Garden_nymph, this is why we have frequently explained, when participating in other discussions about the business off this site, WSB is NOT “a blog.” It’s an independent, journalist-run, neighborhood news site.

    The word blog has too much baggage. We don’t support using “blog” as a standalone noun, nor do we support using “blog” as a verb in any format. “Blog” is a publishing format, and that’s all. The only reason we have “blog” in the name is frankly … we didn’t know any better when we started, and we did start this site as something more of a classic “blog,” opinion and observation, NOT news, information, and discussion. So why not change the name? we are asked. Eventually we probably will. For now, for better or worse, this is how we are known, and what we are called is not as important as what we do, and how it serves you.

    We support describing blog-format sites with language relating to the kind of writing that is done on the sites: Are they personal diaries? Advocacy sites? Or in our case – a neighborhood-news site or community-news site, pure and simple.

    Some of our fellow neighborhood-news site operators in Seattle disagree with us and think the term “blog” will lose its stigma, fwiw.



    I have a friend that works for this paper. They are about to downsize even further, both in staff and in physical size. After selling off their actual printing presses a few years back, they are being forced to go to a digest “zine” sized edition of their paper. The Robinson news group is in its death throes.

    As difficult as this is to say for someone that needs all the publicity he can get, Robinson News is run by illiterates and amateur hacks. I sent them a press release before I opened my business. They were the first to write about it, but they misspelled our names and business name and got the dates wrong. The thing is, they had a press release with all this spelled out. Sure, the article was written by a college intern initially, but it went through TWO editors! Even Mozilla tells me Ice Cream is two words.

    I love print. I carry zines just because they take more thought to produce than a website, but Robinson just makes West Seattle / White Center look like the inarticulate, backwards place that the rest of the area thinks were are. They are an embarrassment, and should just stop. I would love to see a good neighborhood newspaper produced here. The Herald is not that paper.



    I still read the Herald on Wednesdays, the problem is I only read it on Wednesdays. I read the blog most days, because there is always stuff going on.

    I too found the editorial like sour grapes, regardless of who it was about. Several people have posted comments about the editorial, which seems like it meets the ‘contact before complaining’ requirement.



    I’ve been a subscriber to WSH for many years. This week the delivery boys were going through the neighborhood tossing F-bombs back and forth at each other. That, combined with the editorial rant, have led me to choose to drop my subscription. No employee of WSB has ever behaved unprofessionally in my interactions with them.

    Yes yes, kids will be kids, but if what’s come around this week is symptomatic to Robinson Newspapers, I don’t want it.



    Dare I ask what an F-bomb is? You can PM me Irukandji if its not appropriate for here!



    I chose not to renew my subscription after a front page story highlighting the business and life of the man that killed the pedestrian in the crosswalk at 47th and Admiral. There were some other reasons, but that was the capper.

    Yes, I did register my disapproval with the West Seattle Herald, through their online site.



    This has been an incredibly enlightening thread. I hadn’t realized that WS had a print newspaper. I also learned this week that people still have landline phones, Hershey still makes the “Whatchamacallit” bar, and one can still die of plague. Fascinating.



    I make my living designing websites and sit in front of a computer all day, every day. I read the WSB and forum posts daily and frequently. I love it.

    And yet, there’s nothing better as far as I’m concerned as walking into a coffee shop Thursday morning for a 12oz. Americano and picking up the new issue of The Stranger. There’s just something satifying about holding the damn thing in my hands instead of scrolling and clicking on links. Maybe I’m old, but there’s just something more human about turning a page than clicking a link. In this same vein, the idea of Amazon’s Kindle 2 ebook reader is about as exciting to me as Segways were when those embarrasments were released however long ago. Can you seriously look at someone riding one without thinking ‘douchebag’ in the back of your mind?

    So, the bottom line for me is, if the Herald wasn’t an amateur hour newspaper, I’d be all for supporting its print version. I have to believe there’s room for all types of news formats. But this could just be an old person talking.



    It’s like there are two houses. One is an old Victorian. And the other just across the street is a gleaming new Modern. The Victorian has seen better days. It is falling apart and the foundation is crumbling. The people who visit it are using walkers and canes and their numbers are declining. But across the street it is one big party. Young, vibrant. The lights are always on and it seems like they’re constantly building new additions to accommodate all of the guests. The owners of the Victorian are beside themselves. But rather than pick up a hammer and fix their termite-ridden abode they seem more content to just pick up rocks and throw them across the street, trying to smash the windows of the Modern house. But all the throws are wild and don’t ever hit anything. And all the folks in the Modern house can do is to stand at the window aghast at the sad, pathetic old fools who waste their energy trying futilely to impugn what they wish they could be but so aren’t.



    I’m actually startled by the tone taken in the editorial. It is an excellent example of the problems inherent to the WS Herald – inaccuracies, misstatements, and not terribly useful or persuasive. To the contrary, the editorial persuaded me to do what I had not yet been able to do: I’m dropping my subscription.

    The ONE reason that I held on to my subscription was to support a local business that I worried would be suffering in difficult times. The comments that they are doing well made me realize that they don’t need me. Well – that settles it then. I’m up for renewal tomorrow and will not renew.

    A local paper COULD have information valuable to me. It could have a calendar of events meaningful to me that I could put on my fridge. It could provide a new, enlightening perspective. It could contain columns that hold my interest. THEN I would pay for it.

    (WSB: Note here, my husband loves the bicycling column in the WSH. Will you ever do columns? Is there a place for that here? It’s the one thing he will miss from the paper, but it’s not worth the subscription price.)

    I read all my news online now. I read the Seattle Times (never did like the PI), The New York Times, and the West Seattle Blog regularly. Well, there are occassions I buy the NYT Sunday Edition because it IS fun to spread it all over the table and drink a whole pot of coffee while reading….



    PS I did post a comment along these lines on the WSH website.



    I sat down and read the Herald cover to cover last night because the on-line discussion started here made me wonder about what the differences were in the two West Seattle local news sources… the West Seattle Herald and the West Seattle Blog.

    Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. What thy have in common is a listing of local events and advertising and basic reporting.

    The West Seattle Herald does a lot of editorializing.. both in it’s in depth articles and in it’s editorial pages. You get a good sense of the editor’s analysis of local news events and how he thinks they relate to one another.

    And they do include a formal domestic notices section (weddings, births, deaths) and formal legal notices.

    The West Seattle Blog does a lot of news reporting… you know what is happening in your neighborhood when it happens.. and often in time to affect the outcome. There are very few editorials. The editors of the West Seattle Blog seldom tell you what they think.. either in editorials or in the reporting of news items. They don’t tell us how to think about the news.. they ask what we think and actively solicit comments. In fact, they often participate in the discussion in the forum following a news event.

    They do not have a formal notices tab, tho informal notices are encouraged in the forum section.

    yes.. i do know that it is impossible for any reporter to completely withhold their personal bias and/or context about any story.. but WSB does an admirable job of staying as close to reporting the news as possible on their main page.

    There is a place for the kind of journalism the West Seattle Herald does.. and i would hate to see it disappear… The fact that it is printed on paper and readily available to those who have no internet access is not it’s only strength. Many people do prefer to have their news filtered through an editorial view they trust. The West Seattle Herald fills that need well.

    It goes without saying that those of us who participate in the collaboration that is the West Seattle Blog do not have that need.. or if they do.. find it fulfilled by the sometimes rousing exchanges of opinion in the forum section.

    I think there is room for both formats.. the question is whether there is enough advertising revenue for both formats… and i suspect question is that is what really triggered the editorial in the Herald.

    Moving the West Seattle Herald to an online format will help with their costs… but several questions remain.

    One is whether a legal public notice can be delivered in an online only format… and if not, will paper subscription revenue cover the printing and distribution costs of even an abbreviated paper format? If not, should the paper format be subsidized by local government?

    another is how an online format will handle non-business ads? The revenue from ads placed by individuals has decreased sharply with the popularity of online sites that post free ads.

    Are the days of producing revenue from classifieds over? The decrease in the number of ads has led to an increase in the price per classified ad in news print.. which leads to a larger decrease in ads.. it’s a vicious circle.

    If classifieds no longer fund part of the revenue for a news source.. How do you generate enough revenue to keep funding infrastructure (print or online) as you grow?

    On the surface, it would seem that those questions aren’t really any of our business.. after all.. these are businesses we are talking about.

    But, insuring that we have access to a free press is the basis of our democracy.. and that makes the question of how a news site is funded of paramount importance to us as individuals.

    The lock step myopic entertainment news we now have from the major television and many print sources sources is a good example of why we need small independent news sources that can and will explore news beyond that which is handed to them in the form of news releases.

    I think this topic may well be one of the most important issues of our time.



    I wonder if the WS Herald would be facing this lawsuit if they were just a ‘blog’




    i think they would since the content of the lawsuit has more to do with editorial choices and style than with the medium in which it was published.

    Defamation of character is defamation of character.. whether it occurs in traditional print, audio, video or on-line format.

    You have a lot more license if the subject is a public figure and if your format is comedy but the law still applies…

    The PI article didn’t say if he was suing under italian law or US law… i think US law gives more latitude in the definition of a public figure.

    LOL… either way.. he was way out of line to call the prosecutor in the Amanda Knox case mentally unstable… no matter how well that played in the local paper.

    it is possible that newsgroup won’t be around for long. i suspect even settling that one will be very expensive….



    I doubt it, JoB — first of all, the public prosecutor is a public figure and second of all, defamation of character is very hard to prove, even in a culture you understand. (Actually, I’ve seen many references to him as “mentally unstable,” I was starting to think it was his title :-)

    Maybe filing suit against the WSH is proof of his mental instability. I mean, Deep Pockets?????



    This is such a great discussion. That is why I love this…um, lbog.

    …”nor do we support using the word, ‘blog’ as a verb in any the format”. lmao, TR.

    Love the Victorian vs. Modern analogy. I very much enjoy sitting on my lawnchair on the sidewalk as the dirtclods fly by. :)

    But seriously, I am of a generation where I had to consciously decide whether or not I was going to hop on the technology bandwagon. A lot of my friends are not savvy at all. My brother does not even have a webpage for his business, despite my best efforts. I dragged my mom kicking and screaming into the computer age. Now she is stalking me on facebook. :(

    My sister-in-law, who is college aged, NEVER reads a newspaper. But she is an online wizard. Wikipedia is almost a daily part of our existence. I’m not saying online is everything, I still enjoy books: But only for pleasure and rarely for current information.

    Ok, back to the lawnchair. Will someone bring me a glass of wine and some chocolate please?



    El, you should be able to get both in copious quantities at tonight’s Art Walk. Seriously, everyone, the weather’s nice, get out 6-9 pm and visit the 40-plus West Seattle establishments that are participating. The map is linked from the home page “happening today/tonight” item, or click the West Seattle Art Walk category in the list to the right of this very blurb and the two recent items with the map will come up. The Kenney in particular seems to be offering quite the spread, according to a postcard we got!



    wait- they have wine at the art walk? where the hell have I been?




    you might be right about the frivolous nature of the lawsuit.. but it is still expensive…

    the larger issue is the propensity to shoot the messenger (in this case the Italian prosecutor) instead of reporting the news.. the strength or weaknesses of the case.

    While you know i am all for editorialized comment.. i am not in favor of substituting weak arguments filled with slurs and innuendos for reasoned informed commentary.

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