Last week Cory Bergman spoke to us about his success with local blog MyBallard.com. I was aware of hyperlocal blogs, but didn’t know much about them. His presentation really helped me understand the benefits of organized communication in a tight knit community. In a town like Seattle were there are about 600,000 people, social media is really helping bring people together. Imagine the difficultly the Seattle Times would have in covering all local events like charity, festivals and cultural activities…they couldn’t. With so many different neighborhoods just in Seattle, their focus is usually on general coverage. MyBallard.com’s community based coverage allows them to cover more events in a smaller area…creating a popular and very community relevant site.
In an April blog post “10 Women Changing Hyperlocal Journalism Today,” the author says the relevance of this type of journalism is “not just about creating the new sustainable business model for the whole of journalism–but about keeping their communities informed.” With this in mind, the motive behind these types of blogs like MyBallard.com is completely different that mainstream media. Instead of pushing for profit, Bergman implies that community building was more important.
Bergman relies on local talent to cover stories, as well accepting news tips from the community. In fact, he mentions they heavily rely on the residents of Ballard to keep the blog relevant for their neighborhood. Therefore everyone in Ballard is able to contribute to the blog, by submitting tips, or commenting. And in this sense, more relevant events and stories are covered, and covered in more depth than could ever be possible in a publication like the Seattle Times.
After this lecture, I decided to search for my city’s blog, the Redmond Neighborhood Blog. What I found is a blog that doesn’t use any of Bergman’s success factors. While the blog seems to be quite relevant if you are looking for city policy, there is quite a lack of community voice and creative flare. Where Bergman appreciates slow growth because that means stronger more relevant local writers, the Redmond Neighborhood Blog seems to be running at a snail’s pace with just one writer and minimal comments. There is also a lack of useful and relevant advertising, which, since this is a donation funded blog, could be quite an advantage if fixed. I wonder if the Redmond Neighborhood Blog took some lessons from MyBallard.com would we see a more linked Redmond community?