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Archive for the ‘Pasadena Now’ Category

James Macpherson of Pasadena Now emailed me this weekend (and I’m posting this with his permission):

I wanted to ask you if you know of 2-3 bloggers who are foodies who would agree to review Pasadena restaurants for me… a lot — like WEEKLY.

Advantage: They can get into any restaurant and eat for free!!!

Advantage: Their article in PN will drive traffic to their blog!!!

Disadvantage: They could not post their story on their blog, because: (a) I want to retain exclusivity on stories they write for me; (b) they get to eat for free!!!!!!

I would love to post 3 new restaurant reviews a week, so I am looking for 3 foodies (one person would just explode if they ate that much!!!)

He’s hoping that they can take pictures to go with the reviews, too. Please contact James Macpherson for more information about how to get started.

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I just noticed that Pasadena Now has comment fields in the bottom portions of its new stories. I don’t know of any other comprehensive Pasadena news source that is doing this. This is a big step in the direction of encouraging active community discussion about local politics, programs and events. Kuddos to James Macpherson and the Pasadena Now team!

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Update: Whoops. Maybe I got too excited too fast. Right now, the comments are posting (after review – which is understandable) to the “Letters to the Editor” section of the Opinion page. Imagine what it would be like if comments were posted under the articles they were about, though. People could have more productive online conversations and build on each other’s ideas without needing to go hunting for all of the pieces of what’s been said already about an article.

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Pasadena Now has activated its RSS feed! The feed contains article titles only, but this is groundbreaking. It looks like Pasadena Now is the first comprehensive Pasadena news source to offer an RSS feed of any of its content.

(Wondering what RSS is? More info here.)

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Update 8/15/07: Jeremiah Small points out that the Pasadena Star-News publishes an RSS feed, too. It’s a feed of the titles and descriptions of the most popular articles.

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Great ideas - Hugh Macleod
Great ideas by Hugh Macleod of Gaping Void (Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0 license)

This cartoon at Gaping Void today made me think about all the uproar online about James Macpherson of Pasadena Now‘s hiring of Indian writers to report on Pasadena city council meetings.

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City Comforts - How to Build an Urban Village by David Sucher
City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village by David Sucher

City Comforts blog: Distance sometimes provides objectivity

Sucher’s City Comforts is one of my favorite community building books. It shows how to arrange city space to encourage neighborly community interaction.

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Local links have asterisks.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

James Macpherson in his own words

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May 14, 2007: Here’s a link to all of the posts I’ve made about Pasadena Now, too. I support what Pasadena Now is doing. I don’t support replacing local journalists with writers in another country, but adding writers to supplement the city council coverage we have now using videos and documents available online (like Pasadena Now is doing) seems like it could be a good thing for our community. I don’t think it could hurt. Adding someone to write articles based on interviews also seems like an interesting idea; I’m curious about how it will work out.

Pasadena Now is an online-only news site. Our other two main local news sources are Pasadena Star News and Pasadena Weekly, both of which publish online as well as in print and both of which are larger organizations.

Before this story broke, I met James Macpherson (the publisher of Pasadena Now) twice in person, and we also exchanged emails about our shared interest in using the internet for community building in Pasadena. He has used a couple of my photographs for Pasadena Now stories (for free), and he has also published work by other local bloggers. From my perspective he’s a neighbor and he seems like a nice guy. I like him and I like Pasadena Now.

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LA Observed asks (and Doc Searls quotes): “Um, also, how much could Pasadena Now really be spending on journalists?” (link)

I could be wrong, but from what I understand, Pasadena Now is adding writers, not replacing them. James, if you’re reading this, can you comment?

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Dan Gillmor on Pasadena Now‘s hiring of journalists from India: “For the money he’s paying, he could hire local bloggers. They’d do it better, with more perspectives — and have the advantage of, uh, being there.” (link)

Could we really? Would we want to? Do we want to?

I don’t think that’s quite what I want to do. I can’t go to every city council meeting. I do not watch every city council meeting online. I would like to get together a group of people to attend, watch and discuss them regularly.* I don’t want it to be my responsibility to cover every single one, though. I like journalists. I like what they do. They make what I do possible. I do not do what they do.

Check out Centinel and Publius‘s comments (the Foothill Cities bloggers) on this subject, too.

If there are any local bloggers are interested in working as journalists for Pasadena Now, though, why not give James Macpherson a call?

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*I still like the idea of walking over to Wokcano afterwards. Aaron Proctor and I tossed this idea around a little bit a while ago. Anyone else interested? I think the time is right.

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The first I saw of this was at Topix: It’s official: Local reporting is doomed

Associated Press article:

Calif. Web Site Outsources Reporting By Justin Pritchard

Local blog posts:

Peoria Pundits: It’s official: Local reporting is doomed
Foothill Cities: PasadenaNow Outsources Local News Coverage (includes the text of the Bangalore Craigslist ad)
Editors’ Corner: Local coverage from afar
LA Observed: Pasadena News Site Outsources to India

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When I first read this I felt almost breathless with shock. And it wasn’t necessarily a shock of delight. James Macpherson was at the bloggers’ picnic on Sunday. We were all locals being local together. We were building community. We were getting to know the people in our neighborhood. My initial split-second reaction to this news was fear. This seemed like the opposite of community building. What would it mean if people in India were reporting on our city news? What if it worked?!?

Now that I’m remembering that initial jolt, I’m trying to trace the lines of thought that the fear seemed to come from. Here’s what I think when I think fear:

  • If it works, will our news sources feel even more monolithic and one-sided?
  • Will local news become something that is dictated to us from halfway around the world by people who may not have enough information to decide what is important and relevant?
  • Will local news become flatter, less meaningful and less human feeling?
  • Will local reporters lose their jobs?
  • Will it be even harder to write for a living here in Pasadena?

I didn’t feel that jolt of fear for long, though. A few seconds later, it was wonder that I was feeling. What an amazing idea! What if it works?!?

James Macpherson was not employing journalists at Pasadena Now previously from what I understand. It doesn’t sound like anyone is being laid off or replaced by journalists in India. These are new writers being hired. This is news coverage that adds to the coverage we have available now. If it works, it might make things harder for the Pasadena Weekly and the Pasadena Star News, but I’m okay with adding more news coverage and seeing what happens. It might make local journalism more competitive. It might be great. Wouldn’t it be neat to have more in depth coverage of Pasadena city council meetings? Outsider perspectives might shed new light. We might grow as a city.

I don’t think entirely replacing local reporters with people living halfway around the world is a good idea, but adding reporters living in another country to the mix (a mix that is predominantly local) might work very well.

I would love to learn more about these two new Pasadena Now writers. According to the AP article above, one of them studied at UC Berkeley. Neat. I want to know their names. I’d like to see their pictures. I’d like to interview them over the phone. I’d like to learn more about them as people. I’d like to know what they think about this idea! And I’d like to welcome them, person to person, to our online Pasadena community.

What if adding two Indian writers to our community could help our news sources could feel even more human, more warm, more thoughtful and more relevant? What if this adds depth and breadth to what is available now? I’m interested in seeing what happens.

What do you think?

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Pasadena Now has a new (and beautiful) Blog Central page up with links to local Pasadena blogs (including a link to yours truly).

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