Monday, January 15, 2007

Worried about AmericanTowns.com

This worries me. We're late filling this space; it could be too late before long.

“We’d like people to hear sirens or see traffic jams and go to WestportNow to see what happened,” Mr. Joseloff said. “Before this, there was a lot that happened in Westport that didn’t see the light of day.”

The site is a more of a news organization than most town-specific sites in that it employs a full-time professional journalist, Jennifer Connic, who used to cover Westport as a newspaper reporter for The Hour of Norwalk. In addition to writing for the Web site and taking photographs, she edits articles and photos contributed by readers.

Alongside features about the best trick-or-treating neighborhoods, the site offers breaking news about accidents, power failures and police reports shortly after they happen, and items about home and building teardowns before they happen.

2 comments:

  1. We use an online "ticker" of sorts that tracks the five most-read stories on our site, updated hourly.

    The top stories each day would make a serious editor despair.
    Items about guns, cops and robbers -- even briefs that we ran on page B2 -- routinely make it in the top five, sometimes even #1. In yesterday's paper, a brief about a two-hour power outage the day before was the top-read item!

    Our readers are nosy people and they're obsessed with the kind of journalism that doesn't win awards. They want to know what's going on when they hear sirens. When it's not in the paper the next day, they think we're incompetent.

    Of course, we can't hear every siren or send out a reporter when a cul-de-sac of five homes has a power outage ... but this technology allows them to bypass us and self-report.

    I just checked the "Merced" component of AmericanTowns.com. It's just a stub, thankfully. No one knows about it. But if we started our own, we have an entire newspaper to get the word out.

    But we need a plug-and-play app to get it done. No programmers here. Help.

    I'm wondering if others see value in this. I do.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous3:28 PM

    Howard,

    Just came across this post while doing some follow-up research on American Towns. Thought I would mention that McClatchy (Interactive) does have something close to A.T. in terms of a solution: YourTown , although further development and enhancements seem to have been shelved (for reasons I, as a former developer of the product, never understood).

    YourTown has the potential to take on AmericanTowns and bridge the gap between the '5 house' power-outage and the '5 state' ones. Perhaps it's time McClatchy takes a second look at it?

    - Formerly of Nando Media

    ReplyDelete

 
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