Monday, April 20, 2009

Everything I Need to Know, I Got from the Blogs

Here is a very quick look at some events coming up over the next few days. As the blog v. "traditional" media debate continues to rage (okay, simmer), I can't help but notice that I first heard about all of these events via local blogs. The Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Association has nearly all of these events laid out, Left in Lowell and LDNA both announced the Vision Meeting, and of course the last event comes from richardhowe.com.

All of those blogs are linked just to your right among the others that I read, or at least try to read, every day.

Tuesday: The UML discussion series led by Prof. Bill Berkowitz's Community & Social Pscyhology class picks back up with Elaine Pantano leading a discussion about neighborhood trash reduction. If you can make it, it's 7 p.m. on the second floor of Coburn Hall (Broadway and Wilder). The format for these is that someone from the community lays out a policy or business challenge, and then students (who have already submitted papers on the subject) and community members talk about practical solutions. I bolded those last two words because I want to emphasize this isn't ivory tower type of stuff -- it's very rooted in solutions. I've been attending and blogging about these, so if you can't make it, I'll summarize it Wednesday (barring anything crazy chaining me to my desk tomorrow).

Wednesday: LPD / Downtown Residents / Bar & Restaurant Owners' Powwow at 7 p.m. in the Mayor's Reception Room. I haven't been to one of these but I've only heard good things. Hoping to make it.

Thursday: Downtown/Neighborhood Vision Meeting, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Lowell High.

Saturday: Earth Day Cleanup event. Middlesex Community College Cafeteria, with pre-registration at Lowell_NHP_Volunteers@nps.gove

Sunday: Dick Howe and Rosemary Noon leading a tour of outdoor art in the downtown from 246 Market at 8:30 a.m. Missed the Civil War one because of duty last weekend, but no excuse here -- this starts right in front of my house.

I know it may seem like there are too many blogs to keep up with, but I think by scanning for the type of content you want, and glossing over the rest, you can still keep up with a healthy number of blogs in just a few minutes a day. Lowell Handmade may be the best thing going -- it gives you a chance to see the *headlines* with a quick snippet from the top of every blog, so you can sort of scan everything in one shot.

4 comments:

Matt said...

It's this kind of information -- plus Craigslist -- that have really killed newspapers. I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT, but clearly newspapers need to start charging a lot more for their content (like The Economist does) and realize that announcements/classifieds are now the province of the Internet. Though it makes me wonder if local newspapers can even exist...

The New Englander said...

Matt,

Good point about alternative ways for media to make money (i.e. raising fees) -- I know that several charge for podcasts, and I don't care how many times I've said it, but podcasts are amazing. I'm still doing the super-commute thing for three more months, so they're helping out in a major way. I maintain my print subscription to the economist but wind up listening to more of it than I read (free with subscription, but good motivation to maintain the subscription, and it's something I could still use overseas).

Also, as to the local newspapers thing, there is a whole spectrum of thought here in Lowell (and, I'm sure, anywhere else) that ranges from "good riddance" to "this is a travesty." I fall closer to the travesty side. Blogs are great in their own way, but I just really don't see them replacing all the functions that newspapers currently fulfill -- watchdog, local record-keeper, fact-checked source, etc.

Blogs can do a lot of that but not all of it. For one, newspapers can devote entire staffs of full-time paid employees to issues...most blogs are run by amateurs who blog in their spare time. Also, newspapers are susceptible to lawsuits if they knowingly print slanderous information -- blogs aren't subject to the same restrictions (unless they have a for-profit business component) but even still most bloggers' pockets aren't deep enough to be worth suing.

Some may not care (and even newer news forms may morph into its place), but I will sit shiva if and when I lose my local paper.

best,
gp

Matt said...

I actually just read that if the New York Times gave every one of its subscribers a Kindle and sent them their issues electronically, it would be 25% cheaper than actually printing the paper every day. Obviously, something's not right

The New Englander said...

Matt,

Either way, it will be interesting to see how things morph...the mixture of new technology (like Kindle) and the natural benefits of scale that organizations like NYT bring might come together to create a product that combines quality, convenience, and cost...either way, I'd rather have that than a bunch of shmos like me writing from their living-room recliners..

best,
gp