Yesterday we passed an important milestone, the one month mark for having a presence on the World Wide Web, where everyone is able to surf over to get the “411 on the Mayor and Commissioners of the town of Elkton.” We launched the site on August 10 since few citizens knew the town was trying to sell a part of the historic tract of land. The story that started very early in 2008 wasn’t being carried by traditional media and just appeared in print earlier this week.
We achieved our initial goal of making sure a much wider audience knew about this town land policy. Print media has finally done one piece on the story, there have been three letters to the editor, the Mayor has received calls, and many obstacles to the proposal have been put before the pubic. Additionally the Mayor and Commissioners complain about all the rumors that are being spread around town. On that point, we’re doing everything we can to present the facts as we’re able to find them through Maryland Public Information Act requests. What would help stop the rumors is a press release from the Mayor and Commissioners about what they’re trying to do. Despite many requests that statement has not been forthcoming.
We’ve passed other milestones along the way. Our number of readers climb each week and one time we were recognized as one of the 100 fastest growing blogs in the United States. Of course in that first week, we had a low readership base, but thanks to the rumors, word-of-mouth, comments at town meetings, emails, and bulletin boards on the web, we’re growing every week.
This has taught us a valuable lesson about the power of citizen advocacy and the potential for new media citizen journalism. Whenever this issue comes to closure, we feel that there is room in the community for additional coverage of the town, with a blog that would focus on other new community, mostly things that aren’t being covered by other media. There’s plenty of room for that and we believe it would be a valuable outlet for sharing information.