Online news and information beyond legacy media

Archive for June, 2009

The Batavian

Posted by jessdrkn on June 24, 2009

Location: Batavia, New York  thebatavian

Focus: “the first local, online-only news source for Batavia and Genesee County”; news, sports and business sections, citizen forums

Started: May 2008

Employees/Writers: Founder, editor Howard Owens.

Funding: advertising (site allows free jobs listings)


Online news, community views…

The purpose of the site is to provide local residents with timely news and information mostly about Genesee County. It is also our mission to ensure that every resident has a chance to contribute to the community by posting news and opinion about events, whether of local interest or national or international importance.

Sample stories: “Walgreens fence is barrier to business in Leroy” (generated 40 comments in business section); “Genessee County not out of the running for high-tech jobs”; “Police Beat: DWI charge on Galloway Road”; “Things keep clicking for Muckdogs in 7-0 win”

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Cal Coast News

Posted by jessdrkn on June 23, 2009

Location: San Luis Obispo, Calif.  calcoastnews

Focus: watchdog reporting on San Luis Obispo County

Started: January 2008

Employees/Writers: Founder and Editor Karen Velie; Originally co-founded by Ms. Velie, a professional writer, and Daniel Blackburn, a former Orange County Register bureau chief, but in June 2009 site announced Mr. Blackburn is leaving to pursue another start-up. According to the article: “ has plans to add new investigative reporters and is expanding content to include new sections in the next few months.”

Funding: advertising, donations


Investigative journalism is at an impasse. Today’s newspapers are suffering from time and fiscal constraints. As a result of numerous layoffs and budget cuts, investigative reporting has been squeezed down, and in some cases out. The watchdog function of the media is increasingly perceived as a thing of the past. This is a time when new models of journalism are being created to help maintain the media’s important watchdog function. The trend is clear: on-line journalism is the future. However, the bulk of news sources on the Web rely on unoriginal news and opinion. As it evolves, will provide readers with calendar, news briefs, features, with an ever-vigilant emphasis on investigative reporting.

Sample stories: “Employees accused of pilfering county vehicles”; “Fraud lawsuit filed against Heritage Oaks Bank and Stewart Title.” Posts are every few days, bylined by Ms. Velie; some links to other news outlet content.

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Gapers Block

Posted by jessdrkn on June 18, 2009

Location: Chicago gapersblock

Focus: City, neighborhood news; local events, lifestyle, sports, politics; “an antidote to all those sites infatuated with the coasts” ; lots of aggregated news content; big blogroll

Started: 2003

Employees/Writers: Founder and editor Andrew Huff; 9 other sections editors; about 30 writer-contributors

Funding: Advertising


Gapers Block is a Chicago-centric web publication providing information on news and events around town. It is written by and for Chicagoans and those who love the city — its mission is to get you to slow down and check out all the cool things around you.

Sample stories/posts: “Reflections of a Pop duo: TTTTotally Dudes explain it all” (Q&A with two music DJs); links to “Mourners warned of thefts at cemetaries,” “Daley: We’ll sign Olympics financial guarantee” at legacy media site; active area arts and entertainment bulletin board

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Posted by jessdrkn on June 9, 2009

Location: Baristaville, New Jerseybaristanet (section of Northern New Jersey composed of Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield)

Focus: community news, announcements; Baristakids’ page, in association with MontclairKids site (info for moms); food/restaurant reviews; some aggregated stories collected from other sites that discuss coverage area

Employees/Writers: Founded, co-owned by Debbie Galant and Liz George.  The run the site with assistance from one daily editor; 11 contributors; Kristen Kemp runs MontclairKids on BaristaKids page

Launched: May 2004

Funding: advertising — commercial and classified


The biggest contributors to the site are our readers — their active participation has turned Baristanet into a true online community and the destination for breaking local news, airing opinionated views, and yes, poking fun at suburbia whenever possible.
Much like a favorite coffee shop, where the baristas remember your drink order, Baristanet’s “baristas” give its readers exactly what they’ve come to love — a mix of original reporting, as well as aggregrated news, all with Baristanet’s unique voice and perspective. Baristanet readers provide another layer of content and opinion by actively commenting on each story as well as providing tips, photos, suggestions, as well as (ouch!) criticisms, making the site their own.

Sample posts: “Fried to fight for weekend trains”; “Washington Street Elementary School will be green”; “Murder in Caldwell”

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The Eastsider LA

Posted by jessdrkn on June 9, 2009

Location: Los Angeles theeastsiderla

Focus: Community news around Echo Park and “other neighborhoods in the northeast section of the City of Los Angeles”

Employees/Writers: Founded by Jesus Sanchez, former Los Angeles Times reporter



The Eastsider LA explores the joys, hassles, contradictions and general weirdness that defines Echo Park and the Eastside of Los Angeles. You can also expect news, history and tips on making the most of living in this corner of L.A.

Sample stories: “College may drop out of Glassell Park”; “News and notes from Boyle Heights, Echo Park and Silver Lake”; “The real estate market has turned ugly and Eagle Rock has the eyesore to prove it”

Other: Round up of more than two dozen links to area neighborhood, school, city council, real estate, and news sites

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LA Observed

Posted by jessdrkn on June 9, 2009

Location: Los Angeles laweekly

Focus: “Los Angeles media, politics and sense of place” blog; site is home to LA Biz Observed and Native Intelligence blog sections. Native Intel. is section for “LA Observed’s contributors at large” 

Launched: May 2003

Employees/Writers: Launched by Kevin Roderick, who is the site’s editor and publisher. Mark Lacter is LA Biz Observed business section editor. More than 20 contributor/authors.

From Mr. Roderick’s bio: “Kevin was an editor and staff writer at the Los Angeles Times for two decades and led the Los Angeles bureau of the late Industry Standard magazine. He is the author of two books about the city…”; his commentary airs weekly on KCRW-FM.

Funding: advertising — “LA Observed only accepts ads that are in good taste and that fit the style of the site in the sole judgment of the publisher”


LA Observed is an award-winning website devoted to independent reporting, informed commentary and selective linkage on the Los Angeles region and the news media.

Sample posts: “Tales of the LA Weekly,” “Big layoffs at Latham & Watkins,” “Dodgers having cash problems agan?”; LA Biz Observed, mostly aggregated stories from California and national media outlets; From Native Intelligence: “Lakers advance to the NBA finals” and “Field of weeds”

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Woodstock CT Cafe

Posted by jessdrkn on June 5, 2009

Location: Woodstock, Conn. woodstockctcafe

Focus: Local news and issues blog covering 8 towns in Northeastern Connecticut  — “We’re as close as your mouse”; popular topics include school boards and local elections; heavy comment traffic on floating topics

Launched: October 2005

Employees/Writers: Reader comment driven – many regular, anonymous posters, some bylined submissions; anonymous/unnamed administrators post submissions; site includes a philosophy statement and posting guidelines

Funding: limited advertising


From WoodstockCT Cafe Philosophy 101 page:

[Commenter] John said at the Cafe in January 2007 ‘There are many who have contributed to the Cafe to share information with the rest of us, and to enlighten us. The collective intelligence of all of us is well documented in the archives, warts and all. I can say for myself that, as a contributor of some of the articles at the Cafe, I have learned a lot about the Town and how it operates. The ability to speak freely in this forum has liberated us from the political darkness of Woodstock. Our learning about the goings on in Woodstock has come from writing the articles, reading the articles of others, and reading the commentary of other contributors. Many times I have been dutifully corrected and I have always appreciated knowing when I have misstated the facts. This awakening would not have been possible without anonymity. This is because it is the argument stated explicitly in words, not the credibility of the author, that is being debated.’

Sample posts: “Vote ‘No’ at the June 9 referendum”; “We know where the DTC stands, does the RTC have the political courage to weigh in?”; “From the outside looking in on the ninth grade proposal”; “On the Woodstock Academy contract”

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Posted by jessdrkn on June 5, 2009

Location: San Francisco spotus

Focus: crowdfunded news, trend stories around San Francisco area; investigative

Launched: 2008

Employees/Writers: Founded by David Cohn, who is also director; staff of 2 — Mr. Cohn and Kara Andrade, a “five-year veteran of multimedia journalism, print and online, who uses social media to bridge the world of newspapers, technologists and entrepreneurs to present relevant, accessible and edgy stories”; freelance reporters are paid; 9-member board of advisors; 8-member community advisory board;

Funding: “community funded” (crowdfunded), non-profit project through the Center for Media Change; $340,000 seed money provided by the Knight Foundation; also sponsored by Full Circle Fund

Spot.Us pitches story ideas to the public, or receives story ideas from the public or journalists, at varying costs. The stories are funded through direct donation drives; the business model has received heavy press attention and is being closely watched by the industry as a possible journalistic funding alternative 

“1) People submit tips 2) Journalist pitch stories 3) People fund pitches 4) Stories are reported anyone can publish”


We are an open source project, to pioneer ‘community funded reporting.’ Through Spot.Us the public can commission journalists to do investigations on important and perhaps overlooked stories. … It’s a marketplace where independent reporters, community members and news organizations can come together and collaborate.

Sample stories: “Ethanol could be a weak link in state’s energy network”; “The return of the Hooverville: Car and tent cities on the rise in San Francisco”; “A day in the life of a turd: Sludge and lifecycle of human waste”; “In spite of gloom, Muni expects to improve commuter service”

Sample story pitches, unfunded as of June 5, 2009:  ”City budget blues: Covering San Francisco’s half-billion hole”, pitched by Public-Press, a SF nonprofit news outlet, $310 raised, $4,690 needed

“Almost funded” as of June 5, 2009: “Civilian oversight of police in Oakland — breaking the wall of silence”, $798 raised, $202 needed ; “The stories behind empty storefronts in the Mission”; “Bay Area toxic tour”, $1,193 raised, $307 needed

Other: Knight Foundation’s 5 Questions for David Cohn, here

Posted in California | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Baltimore Brew

Posted by jessdrkn on June 4, 2009

Location: Baltimore baltimorebrew

Focus: ”Stirring up news and views”; daily online journal with original reporting and commentary about Greater Baltimore; it’s “about Baltimore’s neighborhoods, housing, politics, environment, real estate, downtown development, schools, transportation, crime, justice, media and whatever else seems worth covering. Books, the arts, culture, food/drink, history, interesting things to do or places to go, all may eventually be found at the Brew.”

Employees/Writers: Fern Shen is the founder, editor and publisher; “brew crew” of seven contributors; solicitation for collaborators; some aggregated story links to Baltimore Sun

Funding: advertising


We aim to be essential and habit-forming, both caffeinated and hoppy. Our main ingredients? Freshness, for one thing. We serve up an explanation for that weird thing you saw on 83 this morning, pass along a tart and timely tip from the coolest parent on the playground, give you some mind-blowing back-story on the news of the day. Professionalism is another. Whether filing a short item or assembling a long investigative piece, we favor time-honored techniques: source-cultivating, document-reading, going places, talking to people and thinking about context and what’s fair.

Tagline: on Facebook fan page: “Baltimore Brew: Wake Up and Smell the City”

Sample stories: “Emergency summit on Baltimore journalism: Anger, grief and not much relief”; “Polluting Turners Station and Dundalk: A Maryland tradition”

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The San Francisco Appeal

Posted by jessdrkn on June 4, 2009

Location: San Franciscosfappeal

Focus: Online-only news source for SF, “San Francisco’s online newspaper” 

Launched: March 2009

Employees/writers: 16 contributors/staff, 4 interns. Unclear whether any are paid. Founded by Eve Batey, the former San Francisco Chronicle deputy online manager. Business: Appeal Media LLC

Content includes original news articles, multi-media, sports, entertainment; some aggregated material, photos, multi-media –  see “Everyone Else’s Top Headlines” news roundup including AP material


Sample stories: “Translink not BART ready yet”; “Police: SF to become fraud capital of world”; “Newsom: Loss of 49ers is SF’s economic gain”

Funding: Advertising

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