Archive for the ‘media’ category

Keeping Up With the Buzz

September 15, 2009

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, 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.

The Ann Arbor Media Flip

July 23, 2009

Today’s the day – the last day of publication for the Ann Arbor News.  Tomorrow the successor (it has the same publisher, at least) ,, is formally initiated (they seem to be sneaking up on it today).  So – as I’ve noted in a couple of previous posts, it’ll be up to us to figure out how we get our news.  There’ll never be “the newspaper” again – or at least that particular reality doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

Of course, this has provoked a good deal of soul-searching and plenty of trips down memory lane, including one by a former reporter, Jeff Mortimer, in the Ann Arbor Chronicle today. Regular readers of the Chronicle will remember a couple of heart-wrenching stories by its publisher, Mary Morgan, who was with the News for many years.   Arbor Update’s Juliew asks some very good questions along the line of What is a newspaper? What is a journalist? What is news?  There is a pretty good discussion, including submissions by actual journalists.  (Okay, I’ve stepped into the swamp of definitions.  A journalist is someone who actually investigates and reports, not someone who merely repeats what they’ve heard and offers opinions.)  (And since you’re asking, I consider myself to be teetering just on the edge of that, but I’m getting a lot of my reporting from other people, and I definitely have opinions.)

So that still leaves us with the question – how do we find out what is going on – the news and the background behind the news?  We’ve been listing sites that seem to convey some actual news about the Ann Arbor area, or at least aggregate it.  Today Ann Arbor Business Review will come off the list, since they are being submerged into

A new addition:  The Michigan Daily.   I didn’t think of it earlier because, frankly, I have not been in the habit of reading a “student newspaper”.  However, a glance at the site shows some pretty serious reporting, not just on student topics, and it is worthy of inclusion.

I won’t be adding our two major NPR stations, for different reasons.  WEMU is an important source for local news (especially listen in the morning just after the top and bottom of the hour); they have long sent reporters to meetings and done original and timely reporting on Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Washtenaw County news.  But as far as I can tell, extensive coverage is not carried over to their website.  On the other hand, though WUOM has a good deal of “Michigan News” on their website, it is rarely local to Ann Arbor.

More blogs and online efforts are likely to pop into this vacuum.  The Ann Arbor News says that Tom Gantert, a longtime reporter for the News, is starting an online political journal called The Michigan Reporter – which he hopes will be funded by grants.  Not a good beginning to read his quote about it.  It is clear between that and his comments on Arbor Update that this transition is not going well for him.

Then there are alternative newsweeklies/newsmonthlies.  Ann Arbor has had a string of them.  The Ann Arbor Observer, of course, has news as well as other types of features, and is still mostly a print publication.  (We’ve put the online version, ArborWeb, on the blogroll.)For many years, one could pick up Agenda, a liberal monthly, free at some newstands.  I haven’t seen it for a long time, though it is still listed as extant.  More recently, I’ve seen a well-produced GLBT paper, Between the Lines. I’m not sure that it is still being printed, but I don’t get to the places like coffee shops where it is likely to be found.  There is also Current, vaguely in the free shopper category, but has finally gotten its website up so that one can read the features and reviews online.

Maybe next someone should start an alternative publication like that now being read in Flint.  It is being passed out for free by volunteers – just like the old broadsides back in the days of the American Revolution.

Update: Today’s Arborweb (Ann Arbor Observer) and Ann Arbor Chronicle have reciprocal links to one another.  Connectivity lives!

Second Update: The Ann Arbor Chronicle has added the Lucy Ann Lance (1290 AM) blog to its “local news” links.

Third Update: The A2Journal, which was supposed to be a print publication delivered to homes weekly, also has a web presence.  We didn’t have a delivery last week (after receiving them for two weeks).  It’s not clear how much actual reporting they are doing.

Fourth Update: The Ann Arbor Chronicle provided this link to a Time Magazine story on the death of the Ann Arbor News.  It reports that the move was a bold business decision rather than a burial.

Ann Arbor Gets a NEWspaper

June 8, 2009

Breaking news – Heritage Newspapers, the operator of the Chelsea Standard and Dexter Leader, has announced a newspaper (right, the kind on newsprint) to be published weekly starting July 9, according to the Business Review.

The new weekly, to be called A2Journal, is to be  “A free weekly, home-delivered newspaper launching July 9 covering the people, traditions and institutions that make Ann Arbor unique.”

As mentioned earlier, the Ann Arbor News will be closing in July.  Its successor,, is said to be planning two print versions a week – Thursday and Sunday.  This was presumably meant to capture the supermarket sale ad market and the government notices market.  It ‘ll be interesting to see whether the new weekly can be a worthy competitor.

Hyper Ann Arbor

June 1, 2009

Edward Vielmetti, whose ecletic blog Vacuum is global in reach but local in focus, calls attention to new tools to “aggregate, curate, and publish” local news via for Publishers.  As I noted in an earlier post, a growing trend toward “hyperlocal” news sites is helping to fill the gap being left by the demise of traditional newspapers.  These pull together numerous online news sources, including some blogs, and sometimes supplement them with governmental notices.  The result is not the same as a traditional newspaper but can help people keep a good information flow about their own locality.

Ed’s post made me take a second look at the Ann Arbor version of and it will now appear on our blogroll.  It does a very decent job of pulling news stories from a number of sources, including some I am not familiar with, and giving a brief headline/summary/link in a very timely way. The link to neighborhoods was a little less successful. Using my own neighborhood (they appear to use the Ann Arbor Observer City Guide classifications, which I find less than satisfactory since my humble neighborhood is lumped with the big houses up Newport), I found that some stories were highly relevant and others (like movie reviews!) more general.

Of course, the Ann Arbor Chronicle is moving right along with this hyperlocal reporting (and is very frequently the source for  They do some curating and aggregation themselves (the plural noun is because it is a partnership) and I find their “New Media” and “Old Media” items very helpful, where they pull news and comment from nationwide publications and local blogs.

Yet to be revealed is how effective the new mostly online news from will be.  A very good piece of news is that they have hired Edward Vielmetti to be the “blogging leader”.  They’ve been making a number of announcements and appointments and their apparent openness is fairly impressive.  I only recently signed up on their site and took their poll, and this morning I got several updates on decisions on policy.  Apparently they took all the items I gave high points to and are sending me instantaneous status updates.  (I am able to turn off this feature.) If this is not all hype/marketing, it could be good.