A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘blogto

[LINK] “How blogs like Torontoist and BlogTO are taking local news to a new level”

Maryam Siddiqi’s National Post blog posting argues that excellent group blogs like blogTO and Torontoist are, far from destroying journalism, sustaining that noble art and creating new vehicles with new methods for writers

David Topping has to postpone our phone chat so he can pursue a juicy tip that came to him via Twitter.

“In the midst of a hot story (for our readership at least) that I am writing up and turning out in the next hour if all goes well,” the 22-year-old writes in an email. He’s also supposed to be preparing a presentation on T.S. Eliot for a University of Toronto class, but he stops what he’s doing to hastily assemble a story about the 20-year-old outdoor mural of Lee’s Palace, a rock ’n’ roll bar, being chipped off by workers so it can be replaced by a sign for a burrito joint. (The club will live on, but will share the space with Big Fat Burrito). The Twittering tipster, Danny Glenwright, gets his due credit in the resulting article when it’s posted Tuesday night.

Topping is, with Marc Lostracco, one of the editors of Torontoist. The kind of ear-to-the-ground, youth-oriented news-gathering he’s doing — connecting tipsters to hipsters, as it were — not only explodes the myth of blogs as lazy at actual news gathering, but it has the mainstream media looking over its collective shoulder.

Even if many Torontonians have never heard of them, BlogTO and Torontoist — local news feeds, or blogs, or whatever you want to call them — enjoy readerships in the hundreds of thousands per month, deals to supply traditional print publications with content (see sidebar) and long-term plans involving hiring professional journalists. In the meantime, they want you to check in at their sites as part of your breakfast routine, somewhere between the morning paper and rush-hour radio news.

Despite a scare that saw Torontoist almost shut down by its New York-based parent company earlier this year before it was rescued by a trio of Toronto-based investors, the citizen-written news services have created a niche for themselves in the local media landscape — one burrito review at a time.

Not too bad for a bunch of more or less amateurs. The sites pay token fees, typically as low as $10 per post, to their contributing writers and photographers, usually students and people with day jobs. Most involved have no formal training as journalists, and neither Topping, Lostracco nor BlogTO publisher Tim Shore have spent a day in journalism school.

Despite the sites’ reputations among Toronto mainstream media editors for providing story fodder, Lostracco says, “the biggest challenge for us is to get our name out there. For the most part, people haven’t heard of us.”

And yes, I do check these blogs and others every morning via my RSS reader.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 30, 2009 at 11:21 am

Posted in Assorted

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