Jon has some interesting things to say about the state of community journalism in Boston right now. It has the makings of a blueprint for how to improve non-MSM journalism (Step 1: Stop concentrating so much on the inner workings of the New York Times). I am particularly interested in his ideas on organizing a site to become an information resource, rather than just an ever changing flow of reverse-chronological postings.
But goshdarnit, Jon wins no points for calling community journalism in Boston a failure because no local bloggers caught on to the story of the poor little Maynard High School radio station fighting for its life against the big California religious broadcaster.
I admit: It's a good story. So why didn't I jump on it? I missed it because Maynard just doesn't fall on my radarscope. I concentrate on Boston and surrounding towns (so I will do a Technorati search on "Mattapan" every so often to see if anybody's writing about it, but I just don't search on "Maynard"). Although not as controversial, the recent move of WILD from AM to FM affects a lot more people in Boston more immediately than WAVM's struggle, and I did cover that. I also have no doubts that if WAVM were in Watertown, Lisa would be all over it.
But speaking about Universal Hub in particular, Jon is dismayed that I don't think all community journalists should aspire to taking down the Boston Globe (yeah, yeah, I write a weekly blog column for them, usual disclaimer applies). When bloggers can devote several months of fulltime work to breaking a story of the magnitude of the Boston priest scandal, let's talk. But you know what? There is just TONS of stuff out there than none of our local bigfoot media outlets cover short of that, stuff that most definitely affects your life and that blogs are just perfect for. Which leads us to Jon's specific criticism of Universal Hub:
Yesterday the "top" post was a picture of birds bandying around a fake owl on the roof of one of the Turnpike rest stops, capping off another day's worth of griping about the MBTA. Nothing about WAVM-FM.
This, I think, just represents a fundamental difference of opinion as to what constitutes "news." I happen to think the T is a big, on-going story - and one that the MSM around here aren't covering particularly well. According to the MBTA, nearly 800,000 people ride the T every day. When service sucks, that isn't news? What else affects so many people around here every single day? One of the postings I'm most proud of here is Just another day on the T. One weekend, the MBTA did some scheduled maintenance on Orange Line tracks downtown, but didn't seem to communicate that to either T workers at the affected stations or T riders, leading to massive confusion in which people were told to walk to another stop for shuttle buses that weren't there (because they were at yet another stop). Classic example of the problems on the T, and something neither daily paper ever covered, but Universal Hub did (because several local bloggers posted about it).
As for pictures of crows on dummy owls, I admit it - I have a weakness for quirky things. But I also think that "news" is not just about portentious, weighty, serious matters. Sorry, but there is just more to life than violent crime and fretting about the Religious Right.
But I've babbled enough. I'm not even sure anymore exactly what constituted "community journalism." What's your definition? And what should we be doing about it?