the spitting cat

As I mentioned here a week or so ago, I’ve been thinking about launching a local grassroots reporting site here in Ypsi. At the most basic level, what I have in mind would only require about half a dozen people each volunteering to cover one City Council or School Board meeting a month or so (something that they might already be doing for their own sites anyway). It doesn’t have to be anything complex, at least not at first. At first, it could just be a compilation of our notes, photos, links and interviews, with areas for discussion. It could grow from that though. (Just today, it occurred to me that we could compile articles once a month into a pdf which we could then ask people to download, print and leave around town. It would be a newspaper, like The Ypsi Sentinel, but the distribution would be completely dependent upon the interest and resources of the site’s readers. People could print one copy to read and leave on the bus, or they could print twenty to give to their neighbors, or a hundred to leave at a bar or coffee shop… Very inexpensive. Very community driven. Almost no overhead.)

Anyway, the initial response was positive enough (at least half a dozen people told me that they’d like to participate) that I went the next step and reserved a table at Frenchie’s for tax day — Friday, April 15 — from 7:00 to 9:00. (They wouldn’t let me have the whole room as I couldn’t guarantee 50 people, but they said they’d set aside a third or so of the space for us.)

So, with all of that in mind, I’d like to ask those of you with Ypsi/Arbor blogs to consider helping me promote this event by passing this information along, using this logo and linking to this post. It would be greatly appreciated.

As for the event itself, I don’t think it has to be totally focused on this community reporting portal idea, but I would like to at least take half an hour or so to discuss it. The rest of the time, we can just drink beer and talk shit about the people who don’t show up.

All Ypsi/Arbor bloggers and blog readers are invited. And, if you want to come, but don’t want to participate in the conversation about community reporting, that’s cool too. I’m sure there will be enough room for us to break into smaller groups.

I was just looking at Dan Gillmor’s site and happened across this very cool, and very appropriate quote from a new Carnegie Foundation report entitled, “Abandoning the News.” Here’s the quote:

There’s a dramatic revolution taking place in the news business today and it isn’t about TV anchor changes, scandals at storied newspapers or embedded reporters. The future course of the news, including the basic assumptions about how we consume news and information and make decisions in a democratic society are being altered by technology-savvy young people no longer wedded to traditional news outlets or even accessing news in traditional ways. In short, the future of the U.S. news industry is seriously threatened by the seemingly irrevocable move by young people away from traditional sources of news.

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  1. dorothy
    Posted April 3, 2005 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    sometimes i wish i lived in ypsi so i could help out with your agenda, but then again our weather is so much better here and i’m selfish.
    seriously tho, i’m living in an area infested with born again christian republicans and i’m about to lose my mind. your group sounds so reasonable and sane—anyhow, i’m with you in spirit. the other day i went to my doctor for a routine check up and he started his conversation by saying, “we as christians should….” AAAAAGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i never even heard the rest of what he said. i might even have leprosy or something but his words just dissolved in a wave of offendedness(?)know what i mean? it’s so depressing.

  2. Posted April 3, 2005 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Hi Mark — I’ll be there unless something comes up with the Doyle for School Board campaign. (Not likely, but hey.) Oh, and my wife has to approve, too.

    Looking forward to the event.

  3. Posted April 3, 2005 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I would like to participate. April 15–inking it in. Thanks for organizing this, Mark.

  4. Posted April 5, 2005 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Politically/philosophically speaking, I probably have almost zero in common with you, Mark, and most readers of the site, but I still wouldn’t mind hanging out. (I can at least usually *understand* politics, unlike Advanced Blogging topics.) I’ll try to make it, although at the rate I’m going, I might be frantically doing my taxes then. Damn, I sure hope not.

  5. mark
    Posted April 5, 2005 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I don’t know how we’ll handle the whole left/right thing if we actually get this off the ground. That’s one of the main issues we need to hash out… My hope is that we could have progressives and conservatives covering subjects objectively, or, if not objectively, at least respectfully. I really would like to see this evolve into a kind of community tool/resource and not just be a left-wing soapbox (as tempting as that is)…. At any rate, Dave, I don’t suspect we’ll only be talking about this. This is just one thing I wanted to be sure to run by people… See you there.

  6. Posted April 5, 2005 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m definitely more interested in socializing since, as I’ve mentioned before, politics generally bores me these days. I’m also used to being a philosophical minority, and although I’m not an argumentative guy (I would make a lousy Crossfire/Hardball guest), I’ll give my (probably unpopular) opinion if asked. I can enjoy respectful exchanges of differences, but I’m usually much more interested in finding common ground. In any case, I have to say thanks for the invitation, and while I’m at it, thanks for linking to my blog from yours. It’s certainly appreciated. And anyone who can appreciate a good pint of beer is generally all right in my book. Look forward to meeting more of my fellow bloggers/readers.

  7. Posted April 5, 2005 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    It might be a funny icebreaker at the event if we had a survey first, to determine our precise political leanings. A few years ago at the ypsi heritage festival I was harangued into taking one by the libertarian booth barkers, who then plotted the beliefs of ypsilantians with little stickers on a big graph, with i think liberal on top, conservative on bottom, libertarian on left and socialist on the right.

    I ended up (by their computation) being the most extreme socialist in the entire city.

    They didn’t even bother giving me a free bumper sticker.

    I think we need to address some issues of political leaning from the beginning, though. As an example, other countries’ media have no problem defining themselves as ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’, which i personally like as it’s not like many news outlets in the u.s. lying (to varying degrees) about being ‘fair and balanced’.

  8. Teddy Glass
    Posted April 5, 2005 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps you could get a local watterig hole to underwrite this endeavor, providing free beer and other necessities, in exchange for some kind of recognition.

  9. Posted April 5, 2005 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I should be able to make it as well…hopefully with spouse in tow.

    The endeavor should survive fine with left and right participation. Johnny Ramone seriously said “God bless George W. Bush ” at the Ramones’ Hall of Fame acceptance. He stayed with the band that wrote “Bonzo Gies to Bitburg” because the group was worth it.

    I used to be a member of a Mac BBS group in Texas where, at meetings, I was called the “resident liberal”. I told them I was more Libertarian than any of them, which turned their faces red – after some thought. Who knew creationists used Macs religiously?

  10. mark
    Posted April 6, 2005 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Are there other issues that come to mind that we’ll need to discuss on the 15th, other than how to deal with/incorporate our various political agendas, the subject matter to be covered, the declaration of principles, what tools we’d use to build it, etc?

  11. Charlie
    Posted April 14, 2005 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Man, this is a great idea. I don’t blog, but I would love to do something on this for the Courier and contribute in any way I can. I can’t make the 4/15 get-together but Mark, please use my e-mail to keep me informed.

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