Saturday, December 18, 2004

Jay Rosen: "If you care about such things, there's a recognition moment underway right now among the bloggers in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the strange thing is we can follow it, even though it's a very local thing-- meaning bound to a particular plot of earth, which is also a place in the American South."

Jay tells the world about the N&R's call for input on a community web.

We have something special happening here. My best shot at explaining it so far is in this column.

Why is this happening in GSO? For one thing, we have a strong, organic blog community -- not top-down and business-driven, but created by people who decided to write weblogs and found each other and created something thriving and coherent. That's an essential part of the equation.

Another element is that our daily newspaper has gotten in the game -- but done so with respect for the local community, not just out of a desire to dominate it.

Nothing we've done here can't be done elsewhere.

So, what does it take to create and nurture a community of bloggers, and to get the local media powers in the game? I think you need the first to make the second relevant.

I've gotten some credit for pushing the local blog scene forward, but all I did was pass along the promethean spark Dave Winer handed to me. It helped to have a newspaper column. Mostly, I blogged, and followed the local scene as it developed. I've believed in this for a long time. I'm from Greensboro, I care about it, I wasn't so interested in creating a business.

One evangelist can make a difference, but I have not been alone. Hoggard was running for office, I said get a blog -- the key was that he did it, and was good at it, and started proselytizng on his own. We organized a local blog conference, you can too. That really helped the community -- made up of individuals who had decided to blog on their own and for their own reasons --  to coalesce. People liked the idea of a loosely-joined group. Now we've got an elected official blogging, and his blog is quoted in the local press. A simple statement on a blog leads to action in the marketplace. The contagion has spread, and it may be at the point of becoming an epidemic.

On the newspaper side, my column and career gave me some credibility with the powers that be. It helped that Lex was a longtime blogger working from within. It mattered that my editor, Allen Johnson, trusted me enough to run my URL at the bottom of my column for years -- a very early offsite link -- and that John Robinson was paying attention, and that former publisher Van King had invested in the web early, even if those investments didn't all pay off.

But other papers and media powers in other places don't need all that -- they just need to read Jay's piece, and maybe this one, and they're up to speed.

Try it. You'll like it.

10:51:34 AM    comment []