When this is over we are going to write a piece on the arrival of the digital age in Cecil County. The first online newspaper, the County Post, goes all the way back to about 1996, a primitive time for the digital age. But that newspaper had an online presence and did virtual reporting 13 years ago. Then there was out first active citizen journalism webblog, CanalSide. From the time we discovered that CanalSide was doing some excellent, creative reporting on Cheapeake City happenings, bringing digital reading matter to our screen that wasn’t available elsewhere, we visited that site regularly.
Now we have our very own Lott-Gate or Rather-Gate, with a story that our traditional media wasn’t picking up on but virtual postings escalated to the point where it couldn’t be ignored by print. To back up a little, when we started Someone Noticed, we tried to get the Whig to cover its creation (once we realized they weren’t going to cover Elkton’s land deal), but they wouldn’t mention this site. But with the escalation of the SPCA situation as it moved overnight to Baltimore media, the Whig had no choice but to give Delegate Smigiel’s blog lots of ink since it played the central role in getting legacy media to cover the story. In our own unique Cecil County way, its almost like when Trent Lott got in trouble for insentive racial remarks, but it took the bloggers to create the buzz that caused his problems. The same thing happened with Dan Rather. (Our interest will be in capturing how this digital age arrived in Cecil County so we have a recordation for fifty years from now when it is old news, but right now in a very awkward, uncomfortable way a new chapter is being added.)
Once the blogsworm started bubbling up, a cohort of other active county bloggers joined in from different perspectives covering the piece and developing their own breaking news stories. One of the bloggers, whom we have a great deal of respect for because of the creative and professional talents they bring to their work, as well as willingness to take on controversial issues is CanalSide. For this current situation with a fast moving news cycle CanalSide has been actively posting lots of original content. Another one, Chesapeake City Mirror, received an email from the Cecil Whig, asking that it’s publisher take down some of the newspaper’s material. That’s the first time that’s ever happened around here to our knowledge, in that we have never know the Whig not to allow its material to be used, with credit and they frequently use the material of others with credit too. We’re sure this situation has actually been good for clicks to the Whig homepage because we see what it’s doing to our traffic and some of the more central weblogs to this issue. If we were the Whig, we’d be happy to have those 5,000 hits a day on our website so we could market that to advertisers.
Here’s a link to an interesting news article on this subject called “A Blogswarm Stings Old Media Into Action.