This week Someone Noticed marks its second year of existence as a citizen journalism blog filling the news gap in coverage of local government in Elkton. This initiative developed after some members of the town board proposed letting a commercial developer purchase part of some of the most important open space and historic land in Cecil County.
After we became aware of the scheme, we tried to engage officials in constructive dialogue. But the local newspaper, the Cecil Whig, wouldn’t cover the matter, though it was openly debated at board meetings. Therefore our only alternative was to launch a weblog to inform citizens about Elkton’s proposal and create support for retaining what the town two years earlier argued was valued public property. Of course, the municipality said the tract was priceless when it sought state open space grant money for the acquisition. This entanglement continued over a long spring and summer and into the fall of 2008, the subject often dominating meetings before officials abandoned the plan.
By this time, two things had happened. Someone Noticed had a regular readership as people surfed over to our pages. And we’d also discovered that most important town business wasn’t receiving media attention. So it was decided we’d refocus and provide a public service by filling the municipal government information gap with balanced, independent reporting. We’re typically the only media outlet covering the board meetings for rarely does a professional journalist show up.
Now that we’re marking this important milestone by blogosphere standards, we’ll restate our goals and purpose. This is a citizen journalism weblog trying to fill the public policy discussion news gap in Elkton. Reliable, consistent reporting on civic affairs in town is our goal. The blog as it actively disseminate news and information will concentrate on the subjects print outlets fail to notice, unless another perspective is needed to round out a story. (Of course, that means we have to cover most governmental news in town.) We’ll try to be reliable and accurate while providing content that isn’t government or politician approved .
In the news posts, we’ll strive to present balanced pieces. But we also dig into matters by asking follow up questions, seeking out documentation, and being professionally skeptical. (There are enough sources serving as press release distribution outlet for politicians.) Our regular opinion pieces will be labeled accordingly. Another area for views is the comments section, which is open to everyone provided they meet a few basics of civility. Different opinions are welcome, even those opposing our views but stick to the issues. We also encourage people to sign posts with their real name, since that greatly enhances the position they’re taking.
Of course, we have a long way to go, but at least we’re trying to provide the “411 on the Mayor and Commissioners of Elkton” so the public is kept informed. Lots of sunshine on the deliberations of local government bodies and fair and balanced reporting helps produce a stronger community and better decisions in local government.