I can tell you how exactly I came across Olyblog, and I also can tell you I at least marked it with a post at this very blog. I apparently came across Olyblog on the old tescrier (Evergreen State College) email list that at one point had been public.
And, here is my very first post over at Olyblog, which for some reason disappeared from the Olyblog itself. It was about a dumb topic, so I'm not sure I miss it being there.
Perusing my early posts, I seemed to focus a lot on civic affairs, politics, community wireless, that kind of thing. Mostly the same stuff I write about here. But, I did talk more specifically about certain candidates and people, something I try to stay away from nowadays.
But, eventually (about after six months of Olyblog) I started doing a weekly "What's on the council" rundown. This was a pretty fun exercise. I got into the habit of waiting for the city webmaster to upload the council's packet for the week, and quickly read through it. This reminded me a lot of what being a reporter was like.
It wasn't enough for me to just beat the Olympian reporter doing the same thing, but I usually tried to find some nuance or angle I assumed the Olympian wouldn't cover.
Like anything at Olyblog, I eventually quit writing the updates. Thad Curtz kept up on it for awhile, but seems to have lost energy for it as well.
Which is sad. But, that didn't make me as sad as the idea never really spreading. I hoped that people would pick up other local governments (port, Tumwater, county) and do similar rundowns. But, that never picked up.
It didn't take much skill, just poking through the staff reports and summarizing what was going on.
I can understand why people never did though, it was also pretty tedious doing it week after week. I even now serve on the regional library board and I've tried to keep up with doing just monthly updates. I quit that eventually too.
Ah, well. Blogging is hard, amiright?
Any type of small-scale publishing is hard. And lately Olympia’s independent media have been experiencing particularly difficult times.
Green Pages and Olympia Power & Light have apparently died. Olympia Time has been unusually quiet. Olyblog mainly posts calendar items. Works In Progress has been stable but too rad chic to fill the void. The Cooper Point Journal has been looking good, but it long ago ditched its founding mission of connecting the campus with the community.
Call me an old grump, but I never thought citizen journalism was the answer. Even relatively small media outlets take too much time and varied expertise to rely entirely on volunteers –- at least over the long haul.
If Olympia’s independent media are going to rebound, I suspect that they will need to experiment with new business models that manage to pay core staff a living wage.
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