I don't see any point in joining the snarkfest that is unfolding on some blogs in the wake of the Wall Street Journal's highly critical article about LoudounExtra.com. But it does make me want to pass on some basic points that should be absorbed by anyone thinking about hyperlocal and citizen media.
For as long as there have been J-schools, professors have been telling their students to refrain from projecting their personal experiences onto the world they're covering. At least I hope that's still going on. But judging from the responses to Jeff Jarvis' "Local lives" post, a lot of people seem to be forgetting how to do that.
Jeff's point: Local is very important, full of opportunity, and very hard to do.
While I was traveling Backfence.com suspended operations, and now a lot of people are drawing conclusions, some publicly and some not. At the risk of further muddying the water, here are some of my own fairly random, jetlagged thoughts:
Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its report, "The State of the News Media 2007," and I'd really like to read it before commenting on it. Unfortunately I didn't make it past the first page of the 38-page executive summary before stumbling over this sentence:
For some, the new brand is what Wall Street calls “hyper localism” (consider the end of foreign bureaus at the Boston Globe or the narrowing of the coverage area at the Atlanta Journal Constitution).
MyClaySun.com launched today in Clay County, Florida, just west of Jacksonville. The blogs-for-all website is coupled with a four-day newspaper, around 30,000 distribution. The website has a couple of nits here and there that the tech team is still chasing down, but the community interaction seems to be off to a good start.
It's public now: We're launching another "daily" hyperlocal product, this one in a western suburb of Jacksonville, Fla., called MyClay Sun. It will have a four-day print publication schedule, "daily on the Web," with a participative community website. Some elements will be very similar to Bluffton Today, but there also will be some significant differences. Launch date is the middle of next month.