Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.
January 14, 2008 11:32 AM
Posted by Ryan Blethen
Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat had a good column in Sunday's paper about a Web site devoted to West Seattle news. Westneat's column can be found here.
West Seattle Blog feels strangely familiar for a couple reasons. One being that the news is the nuts and blots stuff people need. The second reason it felt familiar to me was the content. I edited a weekly section in my previous gig as an assignment editor in Maine. The section, which was called Your Neighbors, was filled with much of what you find at West Seattle Blog. Small business stories. Stories about class projects. Lot's of traffic related pieces.
In the newspaper business we call this type of news "micro-local." Readers call it essential. I find sites like West Seattle Blog fun to read, and encouraging. What a great way for citizens to participate in their community.
Should newspapers fear the West Seattle Blogs of the world? Yes and no. Newspapers have been doing variations of this kind of reporting for decades. The problem is that I am not sure newspapers have figured out how to utilize the Internet for such news. If newspapers do not move on the really local stuff somebody else will.
As important as news of the neighborhood is, there is still a need for the journalism of metro and suburban newspapers. A reader is much more likely to understand what is happening in their neighborhood and city if they are presented with the macro and micro.
The news, in all its forms, does a community good when filtered through a diverse array of outlets.
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