A closer look at citizen media sites

We discussed citizen media this evening, but not in great detail, and not with a more complete picture of simply “What is a citizen media site?” So, your class assignment this weekend is to extend our discussion  on citizen media by digging a little deeper into this issue: What makes a website a citizen media/journalism site? What are its defining features? What makes it successful (or not)? What kind of lessons can we take from this? … Here’s your assignment:

1. Read again this section from the PEJ report on the state of citizen media in 2008:

Getting a Read on ‘Citizen J’

To get a better sense of citizen journalism Web sites, a team of researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Missouri and Ohio University have embarked on a two-part study titled Tracking and Analyzing Community News Models, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Knight Foundation. The first phase, conducted in late 2007, was an audit of various features on 64 citizen journalism sites in 15 metropolitan areas. Phase 1 examined the sites for such elements as the posting of outside material, the use of links and the extent of advertising. The sites studied ranged in their reach from covering an entire metro area to a smaller city to even a single neighborhood. (Click here for the full report).

The fact that 15 metro areas now include at least this many local citizen news sites and local blogs is something of a finding. The phenomenon is becoming more robust.

The other discovery was that, for all that citizen journalism might imply openness and interactivity, the majority of sites analyzed tended to demonstrate the instincts of “strong gatekeepers” who control the content and are somewhat more difficult to interact with than the ideals of citizen journalism suggest. Now, instead of professionals, those gatekeepers were the bloggers or citizens who ran the sites.

The majority of sites did not allow users to post news and feature stories, information about community activities, letters to the editor, photographs or videos, the study found.

The one form of openness was that the majority, indeed almost all, did allow users to post comments about the material on the site, but the staff reserved the right to edit or otherwise screen the comments to meet its standards of civility.

Among other trends that emerged: Most offered only limited ways to interact with staff, were low-tech compared with mainstream media sites and had spotty advertising. Many of these sites were also very young, established only in the last six months, which may explain some of the lag in technological sophistication. One area where they seemed comparable with established media outlets was in direct links to additional information.

2. Let’s put this to the test. Go to this interactive directory of citizen media sites that we visited at the end of class today. Pick three sites (either at random or of interest) and spend some time familiarizing yourself with your options for contributing content beyond merely comments—can you add your own stories, photos, video, etc.? With what kind of ease?

3. In the comments section here, post a brief analysis (maybe 100 words on each) of what you’ve found. Tell us about the sites you looked at (give us the URL) and their strengths/weaknesses as a citizen media hub: How open and intuitive are they? What kind of activity are they getting? (i.e., are the posts going comment-less, as if in a vacuum)? To whom do the sites link—mainstream media, alternative media, other bloggers? Bottom line: Is this a place you’d want to hang out or build a community?

Doing this little exercise will give you a better sense for what exactly is a citizen media site, and what can make one better. That’s a key theme we’ll keep revisiting in the coming weeks, particularly as we take up issues of community organizing and citizen journalism.


15 Responses to “A closer look at citizen media sites”

  1. 1 Justine February 8, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I think a citizen media site should allow users to contribute to the content of the website (through commenting, posting, blogging, uploading pictures, podcasting etc). The interactivity of a citizen website allows ordinary audiences to give their input on subjects that interest them. Successful citizen websites allow users to update content through many mediums. As journalists, we can learn from these websites by seeing where citizens want a voice and not excluding them in mainstream media.

    Three Citizen Media Sites:

    1. Edhat.com: Edhat is an interactive, citizen website for Santa Barbara, California. The website is a self-proclaimed community builder—even the mayor subscribes!—and citizens can upload photos (mostly of their pets, the beach, or historic buildings), write restaurant reviews and comment. Links are set up to share stories and the website is easy to get around. Anyone can sign up for a free subscription to Edhat and then receive a daily newsletter of Santa Barbara’s current events, local news (police and court hearings too), photos, contests, jokes—mostly in a humorous approach. The website doesn’t link to mainstream media because it’s trying to give people a break from sensationalism and let the audience have fun with local news (people of the week, pets of the week, places of the week). I would visit a website like this if I lived in the community because it’s laid back, informative (hard news and quirky) and interactive.

    2. FresnoFamous.com: “Fresno Famous is a place for people who care about Fresno, California, to share news, opinion, and information. Our goal is to capture and organize all the good things about Fresno, in one easy-to-find location. From taco stands to local bands, we want to hear all about your Fresno experiences.” The content is created by users and a staff; all users can post comments, stories, images and blog posts—everything is organized on the site by tags. This website is very open to it’s audience (younger, hipper Fresno citizens), but is organized pretty informal with a lot of advertising placed oddly in the middle of posts. The website doesn’t link to any websites, but it seems to receive a lot of comment action and regular citizen blog posts. I would use this site to look up famous things about Fresno (who knew there were any? I was born in this town and I always thought it was pretty lame), but I don’t think it’s a community building website… more just about fun facts.

    3. Bakotopia.com: “is an online community for the young, hip, and young-and-hip-at-heart of Bakersfield, California (and Kern County.) We’re here to help you meet, hook up, sell stuff, buy stuff, vent and much more.” This site allows you to post blogs on your user profile with pictures and info about yourself (there are currently 6,116). The site revolves heavily around music (gives a local event calendar) and new bands. This site is good to look for stuff to buy in the local area or even look for jobs. The format of the website and font used isn’t very appealing, but I there is potential for audiences to gain something from visiting this site. It’s pretty off beat and not easy to navigate.

  2. 2 Jill February 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I agree with Justine about a citizen media site being allowing openess for user-content. However, when I was reading the state of media report I came across a term called Gatekeeper. Basically, when there is a gatekeeper only the staff can input content, while readers can email or comment. While looking at more and more blogs, I can understand why the gatekeeper system can be useful in keeping up the integrity of a blog. If you allow for full access (i.e. anyone can publish) you run the risk of the blog becoming something other than its stated intentions. I found three interesting blog from different areas each demonstrating the wide spectrum.

    First there was http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/.
    Probably my favorite. It is based in the D.C. area with the goal of making Congress and federal government more meaningful and accessible to its readers and citizens. It is part blog, part window into Congress. All of the blogs have an overriding theme of transparency fitting with the website, use external links and have comments by readers. From what I can tell you have to be a member to blog but not to comment. However the other part of the website takes more precendence. It gives an interactive guide to members of Congress (lawmakers profiles) as well as tracking the timeline of transparency acheivements due to public access reform. Very cool–shows you the power of citizen involvement.

    Second there was http://www.cluelessinboston.com/
    This was a photo blog. Basically cool things around Boston. I liked this one because it had a tag cloud which I always think is the most useful for photo blogs. However from the name of the blog you would think it would be kind of for tourist. It would be difficult to use if you weren’t a tourist however, because many of the pictures don’t have captions saying where that particulary photo is or what it is of. If you were from Boston, it might be a little more managable but none the less. Reading the commments helped sometimes, and sometimes it was just other Bostinites admiring the shot. This blog lends weight to my argument of their being a gatekeeper to keep up the integrity of the blog. I am not sure cluelessinboston was made for tourists, but it sounds like it was and now it is just an open forum for Bostonites to submit their photos with little or no useful information. Awesome pictures though.

    Lastly there was http://blog.nwsource.com/column/convergence-zone.
    I chose this because I know absolutely nothing about Seattle (Northwest area of the country, actually). Anyways, this one was more of a classic blog. The blogging centered around shopping in the region, giving an insider’s view to sales, events, etc. It also provide search engines for jobs, homes, rental stuff, and cars. Kind of like a craigslist. There were also little stories about marriages and other slice of life. Readers were able to comment, however I don’t think there is any contribution outside of the staff. I also think this might be affliated with the Seattle Times. Pretty easy to navigate.

  3. 3 meerarajagopalan February 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I think the underlying trend in citizen media sites is the readability. The language is very simple and easy to understand, there is no dropping 25 cent words where ever possible. It is very to the point. Also, citizen media sites have the ability for users to offer feedback, like other news cites. The people who publish their stories may care more however what people say, having that interaction.

    1. http://oc.metblogs.com/

    I found this blog interesting because being from the Orange County area, it updated me on stuff I had missed out on. It was just someone’s opinion put into a blog that they have kept up-to-date. I think that consistency is important. More than one person authoring the blog also helps, because I think it helps with the interactivity. The site could give a little more information on what is happening in the OC, but also add more stuff to make it even more interactive. Also the advertisements are very distracting on the side of the page, really flashing. There may be too much going on.

    2. http://indymedia.us/en/index.shtml

    I think this is another good example because it appeals to varied interest. It is also a good site because it keeps up-to-date with the issues. Visitors can interact with the page, learning even more about the issues discussed, educating themselves. Stories are tagged, so if one topic interests you, you can find out more about it as you read. It talks about all areas of the world, so there really is something for everyone. There might be too much text on it. Some of the big gray boxes, could be off-set with more pictures. Some other colors would add to the “camo” color theme they have on it.

    3. http://citizenjoe.org/

    The ideal point of citizen blogs is to engage the reader. CitizenJoe does this. Readers are able to post comments and feedback. It is volunteer run, and it features a balanced point of view. It functions like Wikipedia, with editors constantly updating the site, making sure things are correct. I think this one is the best of the three, because it is simple and easy to use. It breaks down topics for people, educating them as they learn more about what the issues are doing, and how they will have an affect on our lives. I think it is personal because people can sign up and contribute to the site, as another “joe.”

  4. 4 Amy Neyhard February 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I agree with Jill’s comment on Gatekeepers. I think that Gatekeepers are necessary because they will control the content being posted. If you don’t, you run the risk of false stories and things being published that should not. I think that as long as the site is open to comments and emails and viewer suggestions, then the website is successful in being open to the public.

    Three Citizen news sites:

    1.) http://www.dukecityfix.com
    This blog site is a community site about food, events and life for Albuquerque, New Mexico. This site allows comments and members of the blog can contribute events and stories. It was pretty easy to get around the site. It offers a daily list of events going on the area with a monthly calendar to check out what else is going on. The site also offers forums to discuss everything from the worst pizza in town to opinion posts to lists of charitable organizations. It brings everything together for the area. I really like these types of sites because it is a great way to inform the community about what is going on.

    2.) http://wichitafalls.yourhub.com/SouthernOklahoma
    This is another good site for community happenings and local issues. To post on this site is also relatively easy to post a story if you become a member. This difference with this site is that it not only offers a blog to post on but users can post just stories and photos. And it has a list of other hubs that you can visit and a list of resources in the area.

    3.) http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/frisco/vitindex.html
    Is an interesting site because it is apart of the Dallas Morning News, but is focused on the Frisco community news and events. This site is really organized and easy to read. It has blogs that are categorized by subject so they are easily accessible. The site also has obits and classifieds. Users can submit comments but cannot publish stories. This site works like a news website.

  5. 5 Robert Rich February 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    1. The first site I looked at was Metblog for Portland, Oregon. I personally thought it was a nice citizen media site, and rather than trying to focus on one single aspect of the city, there was a diverse amount of content. There were tours of theaters in the city, analyses on the fact that a bunch of snow was coming, and all kinds of things. It’s not a completely comprehensive site about Portland, but it’s interesting enough. You definitely wouldn’t use it as your normal news source for the city, but it would be a compelling addition to an RSS feed and something that could provide an entertaining look for a few hours a day. I also enjoyed the options at the bottom of every story, which offers readers a chance to e-mail stories to a friend, make comments, or even instant message stories to friends.

    2. The next site I analyzed was the Billings Blog from Montana. The very first thing that struck me was the poor layout of the site. It has a very generic blogger template, and visually it doesn’t at all make the reader want to stay on the site. The site features a nice aggregation of news from local papers and links to the stories, but I think the biggest thing is still the visual problems. I’m not usually too worried about looks, I’m more concerned with content, but there just wasn’t enough there on this site to make me stay there. Everybody knows how to use blogger, so they’ve gotta make it a little more interesting.

    3. Finally, I looked at PrattTown, which is a site for Pratt, Kansas. It’s also a Blogger blog, but the template used is much more appealing and a lot easier on the eyes. The content seems to focus on outdoorsy things like hunting, and for some reason, a lot of war-history posts, but they’re well-written and entertaining I suppose. Just like with the Portland MetBlog, this isn’t a site you’d want to go to for all of your local news, but it’s a fun read to take a little closer look at some minute things within the community.

  6. 6 samanthadeavin February 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    1. Athens World: http://www.athensworld.com/
    Athens World is described as a ‘hyperlocal blog following life and news in Athens, Georgia’. I think that this site has a lot of potential, but at the moment looks a little under-developed and under-used. There are only a few comments on the blog posts, and the posts themselves are a little few and far between. When I tried to test how easy it was to post blogs, it was obvious that a lot of ‘gatekeeping’ goes on – you have to be an approved member to post. Athens World does, however, provide very useful links to other Athens based sites, such as Athens101.com and Athens Inbox. It connects the site to a wider Athens based web community. I feel that if the site were to be made more visually stimulating – there are no photos or advertising – it would attract more users.

    2. Nashville is Talking: http://www.nashvilleistalking.com/
    The second site I looked at was Nashville is Talking, which describes itself as ‘Nashville’s Online Conversation’. I think this is a good description, and I really actually enjoyed the site, and thought that if there was something like this for my home town, Sydney, I would definitely be able to spend a few minutes everyday browsing it. It has links to its Twitter comments and Flickr pictures, as well as Nashville news stories. Another nice aspect of this site is that it aggregates all of the Nashville area blogs, so from this site you can be lead to all sites written by those in or on Nashville. Everyone can add their personal blogs to the website, and everyone is free to comment, provided you have an e-mail. The only potential downfall of this site is that it is produced by WKRN-TV, Nashville’s news station. Whether or not this affects the content could be an issue, however in the ‘About Us’ section they are adamant that it is written by individual bloggers.

    3. Crow News: http://www.crownews.net/
    Crownews.net is a community online newspaper serving the town of Crow Agency Montana and the Apsaalooke Nation. Of all the sites I looked at, this is the most localised, and really feels like a community based site when you see it. For example, their profile section features members of the community. when I was looking, it was featuring Milo Paz, an 11 year old who’s favourite colour is black and who’s favourite dance is the Crow Hop. I felt like this was a really nice touch, and the site has the potential to really bring together the community. The site does, however, seem to ‘gatekeep’ a lot as everything has to go through the editors, although they explain that all input/blogs/comments are welcome, from opinion pieces to church bulletins to wedding photos. While the site isn’t overly tech savvy, it seems appropriate and has the right feel for a small community webpage, and has many links to external news sources.

  7. 7 Kristin February 9, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    1. Chicago Talks http://creatingcommunityconnections.org/
    This site covers “all corners” of Chicago with reporting done by “young journalists learning to cover their communities” and other citizens who want to make sure untold stories get told! One thing I instantly liked about this site was that in their “about us” section they said: “We’re looking to make connections with local businesses…in ways that support community building.” To me, that really sounds like citizen journalism. So, anyone can publish a story, you just have to join and submit it to the editors, or gatekeepers, to approve it. You can also add pictures or slideshows to your story. I enjoyed the layout of this site. The home page contained various stories in order of the day they were created, similar to a blog. But then, there was also various categories that you could click on. Overall, I enjoyed this site in that it really encouraged everyone in the Chicago area to get involved and be part of the community. Oh and they also used tags, which I find really helpful and make the stories easier to navigate.

    2. The Garden City http://thegardencity.net/?q=node/11
    This site calls itself “a blog for the people of Newton written by the people of Newtton” WOW! Now this really is citizen journalism to me. Even more so than the above! So many of the sites I looked at were done by maybe 4 or 5 rather than several community members. Anyone with an ID is able to contribute to the site without being overlooked by the editors. Only anonymous posts are reviewed first. This is awesome! Pictures are also welcome. On the home screen there is a poll asking who your choice for mayor is, which is a great way to get community input on community issues. The categories include news, events and even a restaurant guide with comments from Newton residents that have been to the various restaurants! There is a user list where members can create a profile for themselves if they so choose. Overall, this site looks like it is well on its way to becoming a great citizen journalism site. I am not sure when it was started but even though it doesn’t seem to have tons and tons of members yet, I think its intentions are headed in the right direction.

    3. Indybay http://www.indybay.org/indymedia/
    This site is put on by the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center and is by far the most complex and in depth site I visited, but in a good way. Two things that instantly caught my eye were their mission statement and their “get involved” statement. In the mission statement it says the site aims “to provide links to alternative media and activist groups” and “to offer community classes for training in media skills.” This is the first time I have seen these two things mentioned on any of the sites. The fact that they mentioned offering community training classes is amazing to me and shows great dedication to truly furthering “citizen journalism.” The “get involved” statement I mentioned says: “This is YOUR independent media center. As an all-volunteer organization, we need YOU to get involved!” Another great statement and way to place responsibility on citizens! The site layout is good too once you figure it all out. It includes various topics and goes further with the news section to break it down into local, global and breaking. Teasers are on the home screen as well, which I think is a good strategy. This site really seems to have a grasp on the idea of citizen journalism.

  8. 8 Christina G February 10, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Gothamist.com is a “group news site with citJ and commentary from regular contributors on New York City current affairs, restaurants and bars, and cultural scene; photos; community discussion; part of network of city sites.” This site was on the map we looked at, but I’ve been visiting it for almost a year now for it’s interesting mix of content. The site does allow readers to post comments, as well as upload photos and videos. The site does get comments from readers, and it links to lots of great outside sources, which is one of the reasons I keep going back. They link to other news organizations, as well as sites for different things they mention, like school sites, etc. I think this is a pretty good site, but not the type of citizen journalism you’d typically expect. I think of Gothamist as a news site, run by people with a common vision for the site. It is a place I like to visit, and I do.

    Dallas Morning News Neighbors, at http://neighborsgoblog.dallasnews.com/, is a site out of Dallas Texas. I found that there were about ten separate Dallas News Neighbors sites for each suburb or part of Dallas. For example, East Dallas is a part of Dallas, not a suburb, and it has it’s own Neighbors site. I believe the idea is to get hyper local and allow people to connect within their area, but when I clicked on the Dallas site the homepage featured news from all of the different sites as their main content, and not news local to the area I chose. I couldn’t figure that out. The site is also very cluttered looking compared to sites like Gothamist. Like Gothamist, though, it seems to want to be equally about hard news and soft, but does a poor job. After a few clicks around, I was also asked to register, which turns me away from a site if I’m not completely happy with it. The site allows comments, but receives few. It also allows photos.

    Las Vegas Vegas, at http://www.lasvegasvegas.com/, claims “Las Vegas gets posted here” and looks similar to Gothamist in format, but seems like more of a public relations Web site. There are some news stories, some entertainment and celebrity focuses, and also write ups for free meals at Denny’s, which I didn’t understand. There are photos and videos, all of which were posted by the site’s admin from what I could tell, to be viewed by visitors, but I didn’t see a way to upload my own. There is a comments section for each post, but it seems that the posts get no comments. Clicking on comments yields a field to leave one, but you never see what has already been left. The site looks like it’s been around since 2005, though. Overall, the site looks a little cheap, and the content is to pluggish to lure me back to often.

  9. 9 Simrat Sharma February 10, 2009 at 2:09 am

    I agree with Meera about the casual approach of the most citizen blogs. They seem to be written in a very approachable, nonchalant way with none of the high-strung, alienating prose of mainstream media. I think one of the things that define citizen journalism is the localized focus of the content. While the wars and stimulus packages might affect everyone through an eventual trickle-down sort of way, discount days at local farmer markets and neighborhood crime watch blogs are a lot more relevant to people.

    I also got the feeling that some of the blogs were set up with a noble community purpose only to become a diary of a blogger.

    1.I checked out this blog based in New Orleans called Maitri’s VatulBlog (http://vatul.net/blog/). The author is from Kuwait and is of Indian origin. She currently lives in Louisiana and writes about the city of New Orleans. While she claimed to write about the effects of Katrina and the city of ever since, the last few posts were focused on a parade and performances leading to the upcoming festival of Mardi Gras. The comments on the blogs seem to be from people in her direct acquaintance. Users could search the posts by category and date of publication. The blog could also be subscribed through RSS feeds. The content is interspersed with photos taken by the author, YouTube videos and related photos from Flickr.

    Yet, I would not visit this blog to get the news I need about New Orleans if I lived there. The content seemed to be directed at a small group of people, as opposed to the entire city. It seemed very personal and did not inform about the city. There were no links to any mainstream media websites either.

    2.Another blog I happened to come across was called Universal Hub (http://www.universalhub.com/node/142). This blog is genuinely dedicated to delivering neighborhood-specific news from Boston, Massachusetts. It has links to other related blogs on the Boston Blogs Network. Sub topics include stories from each individual neighborhood, each of which can be subscribed to through RSS feeds. The how-to guide of the blog is easy to understand and it encourages users to create the content because the purpose of the hub was to generate news created by the readers. There were even tabs to show post collections under topics like ‘Recent Crime Posts’, ‘Recent Media Posts’ etc. The posts could even by categorized by T-posts which are the subway stops in Boston!
    Overall, this blog was very informative for a Boston dweller. Posts on the political section had been updated several times a day and comments expressing vehement disagreement with the author were not removed. The blog could be followed on Twitter as well.

    3. Fractals of Change was an interesting, solo-author blog I came across (http://blog.tomevslin.com/education/) . The author, Tom Evslin, wrote out of Maine and had a very organized and techie-friendly page. All posts were attached to links of related articles on mainstream media news sites. Stories could organized using RSS, DiggIt, Del.icio.us etc. Weirdly enough, I could not find a comments section though. The author seemed to want to bring the news to the people (and he wrote about everything under the sun with a certain expertise), but was not too concerned with their responses. He did, however, connect them to related sources they may find interesting.

  10. 10 Michele Pierini February 10, 2009 at 2:36 am

    1. Around Carson
    This is a community website for Carson City, Nevada.
    The layout is alright with decent contrasting colors. The posts usually have numerous photos to look at.
    I feel bad for the creator, because they are pushing for contributors to come and submit but they do not.
    The site description says “A community blog for Carson City, Nevada. Anyone at all can post, but so far it’s just me.”
    Submitting stories and photos is very user friendly. All you do is click on either blue button and you can upload and post things from the site directly. You don’t have to send an email to the admin or be a registered user in order to post something.
    There’s a much more diverse population of people uploading photos to this site. I think ALL the stories were written by Scott Schrantz, the creator.
    There are Carson City specific articles about the changing city and stuff but there is also a dining guide and a feature showing what the city used to look like. The creator blogs frequently and the stories are kind of interesting. There are links to other northern Nevada bloggers.

    2. Blog San Diego
    Boring layout with flashing animated ads. It’s mostly grey and muted colors, which is not that inviting.
    However the content is interesting if you’re into underground music.
    You cannot post comments, but they have a newsletter and you can email the admin.
    They have a few regular contributors that are listed and a few other people also submit things. There is a forum on the site that is for musical purposes. It’s kinda like a music specific craigslist. Listings include music gear for sale and showlists.
    Apparently the only thing they really want you to send is new and cool music for them to review.
    The banner ad is really confusing. If you didn’t read all the way down the page you would never have known that it’s an advertisement for a band’s cd. Yet it doesn’t even link anywhere when you click on it.
    Looking at their archives they used to be more true to their description :: music / art / politics from san diego but now their title bar just says Music California San Diego, which from the main page looks more accurate. No real links prominently displayed that i could see, no blogroll.
    It’s weird because they may have this forum interactivity where users can put up whatever they want, but the actual site is not ultimately interactive.

    3. Curbed LA
    Part of the Curbed websites, this one is the Los Angeles neighborhoods and real estate blog. This is pretty cool because not only do you get to hear about the neighborhoods, but once you get to know one that you like you might also find real estate listings in that same area all in the same blog.
    The blog looks nice and has cool graphics. It allows for user feedback in the form of comments. There’s a newsletter. I clicked on some ads for curbed.com stuff but they didn’t work. They have a flickr photo pool.
    All articles are published without attribution. The posts aren’t attributed to a specific writer so there’s no connection between reader and writer. It’s just an entity to be read.
    One interesting thing about Curbed is that it is partially a gossip site meaning that they don’t have to check their sources or stories once they have a scoop.
    It made me laugh when a Veggie Tales movie ad popped up.
    When you submit a tip you end up sending an email to the site.
    As you read the comments it is easy to see the separate conversations among the readers of the blog. They discuss the post’s topic and debate upon the accuracy of points made.
    Links featured on the blog are from the other pieces of the Curbed family. Eater and Racked are the other main blogging vehicles, which cover restaraunts and fashion respectively. The sites are specific to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    Although the Around Carson blog is the most user friendly in terms of easy access to publishing tools, I would much rather contribute to the Curbed LA site. It is much more fun and interesting and is part of a larger conversation in a populous city.

  11. 11 Scott Richert February 10, 2009 at 9:32 am

    For this assignment I checked out sites from the three places I am most likely to be next year.

    1.greaterorange.blogspot.com- This site is a blog for news and information about Orange County, California. It was pretty bad. Although it was updated often and the news was both interesting and relevant, no one was reading it. Not a single one of the posts had comments, and as far as I could tell only one person had made all of the posts. None of the posts contained links to outside sources. The site did however have links to other blogs about Orange County that were much better in design and interactivity, and therefore were more visited.

    2. http://www.blogginneworleans.com- This site was a site with news, stories, and info chronicling the recovery of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. The site was well laid out and very easy to navigate.It was put together by a small group who each contributed to a different “column” twice a week. Their archives were organized into categories to make it easier to search for older posts. The articles all contained links and were well written. I was actually very impressed with this site, until i noticed that the most recent post was from September 15, 2007.

    3.Austinist.com- This blog was very informative about upcoming events in Austin. It demonstrates some of the characteristics of a good site and some of those of a bad one. Although they claim to be a news and culture blog, they are really just a culture blog. It appeared to be a little better read than the other two I checked out. None of the posts had comments, but many of them had been reccomended, meaning they are getting a little attention. They also had their archives well organized and easy to surf. There are a few links scattered throughout the posts, but they are only underlined, making them blend in with the text around them.

  12. 12 Rachel February 10, 2009 at 11:02 am

    1. http://www.dukecityfix.com/
    I too looked at Duke City Fix which is a cit j site for Albuquerque. It seems to be rather intuitive on the navigation and where to post links and comments. It’s very active with people posting daily and often. It is moderated by a few volunteers and there are regular postings by writers, though most of the content is user-generated. You can set up your own blog through the website and they have discussion forums for community members to post stories and questions. There are groups, sort of like Facebook, ie. the Neil Patrick Harris Fan Club and the Grammar Mavens. I think the site as a whole is working well and if I was living in Albuquerque as a journalist, I think this would be a great site to see what interests people that day and to get story ideas from.

    2. http://neworleans.metblogs.com/
    This is the metblog site for New Orleans. It’s more of a blog that is used as an alternative news source in New Orleans. There are authors who post to it regularly and then the community comments on these posts. Apparently a new feature was recently added called The Hub. The Hub seems to be the community aspect of the metblogs though it is for all of the metblogs, not just New Orleans. There are groups and forums and members with profiles. If you were just looking for an alternative news source, this would be a good place to go, though the language is not PG.

    3. http://bloghouston.net/
    The last one is a blog site for Houston. The format is similar to metblogs as there are people who write blogs, and the community then comments on them. There’s about 6 regular bloggers and they control the content. On the FAQ page, bloghouston says that it will look at news tips submitted, but that they are all volunteers and may not have the time to look into each tip. They also enjoy emailed tips about the best watering holes or any gossip. On that page they also responded to users posting new topics on the discussion boards: “Because they’re OUR message boards. If you want to discuss our blog posts intelligently, knock yourself out. But we have no interest in hosting a message board for Houston affairs. If you’re into that, you could go here, among other places.” Here is link to go.com. I’m not sure how much traffic the site gets, but judging from the number of comments, I wouldn’t say a lot. The most comments a single post had was 12, with most of them receiving under 5. I don’t think I’d use this site as much since there are several other cit j sites in Houston.

  13. 13 oliviafong February 10, 2009 at 11:49 am

    1. http://phillyist.com/
    This is a pretty entertaining site to click through (My favorite is a post with a Youtube video called Douchebag on Ice”.) Posts are written in a really casual and conversational style, but they always have anything to do with Philly at all; lots of them are just cool pictures people take. There’s a tag cloud so that you can see what kinds of posts are most popular, and because there are editors to this site, you can’t post all willy-nilly,

    2. http://www2.newszap.com/
    Basically like a Craigslist/Online Forum for a bunch of cities in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, and Maryland. (Random much?) You can post classified ads, opinions, and news (including obituaries) for free on this site. Not the most aesthetically pleasing site I’ve seen, as it’s loaded with advertisements.

    3. http://www.blogsandiego.com/
    Has a blog/homepage feel to this page. Reviews, upcoming concert dates, and news related to music of independent bands in California. There’s a Twitter feed on the side, so you can keep up with the editors. As expected, lots of pictures and youtube videos, though these aren’t updated too regularly.

  14. 14 oliviafong February 10, 2009 at 11:51 am

    1. Phillylist
    This is a pretty entertaining site to click through (My favorite is a post with a Youtube video called Douchebag on Ice”.) Posts are written in a really casual and conversational style, but they always have anything to do with Philly at all; lots of them are just cool pictures people take. There’s a tag cloud so that you can see what kinds of posts are most popular, and because there are editors to this site, you can’t post all willy-nilly,

    2. Newszap
    Basically like a Craigslist/Online Forum for a bunch of cities in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, and Maryland. (Random much?) You can post classified ads, opinions, and news (including obituaries) for free on this site. Not the most aesthetically pleasing site I’ve seen, as it’s loaded with advertisements.

    3. Blogs and San Diego
    Has a blog/homepage feel to this page. Reviews, upcoming concert dates, and news related to music of independent bands in California. There’s a Twitter feed on the side, so you can keep up with the editors. As expected, lots of pictures and Youtube videos, though these aren’t updated too regularly.

  15. 15 Sarah Lacy February 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Houston Strategies: http://houstonstrategies.blogspot.com/

    This Houston city blog is published through blogspot by Tory Gattis. It describes itself as “An open dialogue on serious strategies for making Houston a better city, as well as a coalition-builder to make them happen. All comments, email, and support welcome.” I think that this type of blog is useful because of its hyper local nature and interest in specific city issues. But this site does have holdbacks because it is a basic blog format. The only reader interaction is through post comments and there is not a large amount of feedback. It is a useful tool for community members and offers multimedia that you might not find in a paper or even a news website. The linking is extensive and ranges from other blogs to direct source sites.

    Blog Houston: http://bloghouston.net/

    This is another Houston blog that has a different layout but in the same basic blog format. Readers can leave comments on the blog posts that cover a large range of Houston issues. I particularly like the right side columns that include bios for the contributors to the blog and an RSS feed that shows new posts by other Houston blogs they link with. This ties in a networked element that goes beyond basic linking. The links in the posts go to both other blogs and to the Houston Chronicle. They also go to other direct sources of information.

    Houston MetBlogs: http://houston.metblogs.com/

    This site is especially open. The very first post on the site is “Come blog with us.” They are inviting others to contribute which allows people to feel included. People are not outsiders unless they want to be. Although this does sound inviting, the blog is not up to date and the posts have not been added since 2008. I guess no one took them up on their invitation to blog. This is a great idea for audience interaction but they need to find a new way to pull in readers and contributors. This defunct site has the right idea but does not seem to be a success. That said the entire site metblogs does have blogs that work in other areas. Maybe the giant nature of the website cannot relate to people on a hyper local level like Houston. People create their own blog instead of contributing to metblogs.

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