Keeping Up With the Buzz

Keeping up with Ann Arbor news is more difficult now than it used to be.  As we noted in an earlier post, there are a variety of more or less conventional outlets that are mostly online (and mostly in our blogroll).  The printed word is now barely available on a daily basis.  But part of the trend toward hyperlocal reporting is that numerous other online sources of news, including blogs (like this one) run by individuals, are emerging.  This has been noticed by institutions run for academic and professional journalists like the Knight Foundation, which has established the Knight Citizen News Network.  The site offers a number of resources to guide “both ordinary citizens and traditional journalists in launching and responsibly operating community news and information sites.”  The Knight Foundation evidently has a strong interest in citizen journalism; the oncoming Grand Rapids news source, The Rapidian, is funded by a grant from them.

One of the challenges in getting a real sense of community news online is simply the task of visiting a number of sites every day.  This has been addressed in part by aggregators like Outside.InAnnArbor.com, which Outside.In still quaintly calls “the Ann Arbor News”, is also acting as something of an aggregator, pulling up links from other online sources such as the Ann Arbor Chronicle and the Ann Arbor Observer (and this blog), usually with some supporting text wrapped around the link. In addition, they have enlisted an army of bloggers (also known as citizen journalists).  Fwix, which claims to be keeping up with news “in real time” has included Ann Arbor in its Detroit-area scans; they are using blog sources as well.

But to keep up with “the buzz”, what’s going on in our little rain puddle, it is also helpful to check in on local blogs. Of course, most bl0gs are not all news all the time.  Many of them rightfully reflect the owner’s individual preoccupations and can be either very narrowly focused or  really all over the map in subject matter.  Yet they can help to reflect the community conversation of the moment.  Arbor Update is a now venerable group blog that includes some reporting, some aggregating, and a great deal of commentary that can be at times highly informative, thought-provoking, or trivial and annoying (when certain commenters get into rants).  Edward Vielmetti’s blog is another long-standing Ann Arbor blog which comments on his eclectic interests (recently many videos have been added), and he brings his focus on detail and technology to it as well as in his role as a commenter on many other area blogs. On the newer side, the Ann Arbor Tree Conservancy (which originated with a neighborhood group)  is only now organizing its blog, but it already has a news update function (for its chosen subject area) and links to local news sources. I’m not even going to try to make a comprehensive list of local blogs.  Web lurkers will probably pick up on blogs for their specialized areas of interest: for example, I find that for sustainability and local food, two good sources of local news are the Brines Farm blog and the Farmer’s Marketer.

I’d like to hear of new (or old) Ann Arbor blogs that can be a source of news about our community.  So would the Knight Foundation.  They’d like you to submit your site for inclusion in their directory.  Note, their focus is on citizen journalism, not on opinion or action.   If you have a blog or website that features local news, the directory will help scholars – and local readers – find you.

UPDATE: The Poynter Institute is sponsoring a two-day workshop on October 21 and 22  for bloggers and citizen journalists.  The first day is free.  The information is here.

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