"Officially," today is the launch day of The Batavian.
That may not mean much; we've been up and running for a week and a half. The only thing that has really changed from yesterday to today is that starting this morning we're running ads on WBTA. (Ads start in the Pennysaver this week, as well).
You might be wondering, "what is this thing called The Batavian?"
It's an online news site. It's a community site. It's an information site. It's an opinion site. It's an online place for Batavians to meet and share information, ideas and view points.
Our one paid staff member is Philip Anselmo. His job is to keep tabs on Batavia, post interesting stuff and help host the conversations that take place on The Batavian.
Our goal is to create an oft-updated online site that Batavians appreciate and use frequently. We intend to be a part of the Batavia community for a long, long time. If that happens, we will grow and we will hire. Our intention is to hire people who live in and love Batavia. Part of Philip's job is to help recruit his replacement.
For too long, community newspapers have lost their way because they are often staffed by people who don't feel they have a long-term stake in the community. The best and brightest reporters and editors eventually move on to better paying jobs in bigger cities.
We want The Batavian to be different. We want to find good reporters who understand our content strategy and who would enjoy covering Batavia for many, many years.
What is our content strategy? Simply put, to use the Web the way it was intended.
We write in a personal voice. We share about who we are and what interests us. A common myth about the Internet is that it depersonalizes human interaction. People who use the Web often know this isn't true. Web communication is more personal, more human.
You won't see us refer to this site as a "virtual community" (a term common for sites like this a few years ago). There is nothing virtual about online communities. Online communities are just as real as anything that happens offline, because the friendships and alliances formed, the tasks accomplished and the good done are just as real as anything that happens on Main Street, a board room or in a Rotary meeting.
Of course, when you start using personal pronouns, you'll likely stray into the area of sharing your own opinions.
In old-school journalism, expressing opinions is a sin. In online journalism, it's a virtue.
American's distrust of the media is at an all-time high. A big reason for this distrust, we believe, is that reporters and editors often boast of their objectivity and lack of bias, but we all know that objectivity is impossible and bias is the natural human state.
American journalism often puts on a false front of objectivity, but every reporter and editor comes to a story and its set of facts with a specific mindset, a specific context.
Facts do not mean much outside of context, and context is always subjective. That's why two groups of people can have completely different views on what facts in a particular narrative are important, and which facts can be ignored. The debates around the Iraq War illustrate perfectly how facts can mean different things to different people, and also how different contexts can cause some people to believe things other people are convinced are not true.
We believe a more honest form of journalism is to let you know what our context is as part of our coverage. Rather than pretend to be objective (which, again, is impossible in the common journalistic meaning), we'll share our opinions when we have them (not that we will always have them on every story).
When we don't know something, or don't understand, we'll admit it and ask for your input and help. We've already seen an example of how this works on last Tuesday's Daily News Roundup. Philip had questions about a story, and Council President Charlie Mallow jumped in with answers.
That's a new kind of journalism, but one we believe is much more effective in serving a community and more benefitical to civic discourse and democracy.
We ask of ourselves and everybody who participates in this site:
- Honesty in identity and context (please register with your real name, or with your organizational name if representing a group of people)
- Accuracy in the facts and representations
- An abhorance for personal attacks — no name calling, please
- Value and seek truth
- Give credit where credit is due (we always cite our sources, and if possible, link to those sources).
We hope that you value The Batavian and visit the site often. We promise to work hard to keep the site updated frequently with the latest news and information. We will do our best to keep the conversation civil.
We have many new features coming — before long, you will be able to set up your own blog on The Batavian — so keep in eye out for updates and new additions to the site.
You can also help to promote The Batavian.
- If you have a Web site, link to us.
- If you have a blog, please tell us about it and link and comment on our posts.
- E-mail all of your friends and associates who would find value in The Batavian and let them know about the site.
- Register and leave comments. The more conversation, the better for everybody.
- Include a notice about The Batavian in your school, organization or business newsletter (please).
The more voices heard on The Batavian, the more useful the conversations will be to Batavia.
BTW: If you don't know what a blog is — blog is short for "Web log." It's both an online publishing platform (just a tool, or technology), but also a mindset about how to communicate online. Posts appear when the blogger has something to say (no deadlines), often (but not always) contain opinion, are written in a personal voice, appear in reverse chronological order and rely on links with other Web sites to facilitate conversation. If you don't have a blog and want one, and don't want to wait for The Batavian to make one available to you, visit WordPress.com, where you can set up a blog for free — just let us know about it when you've got it going.
A word about news tips: Soon, we'll have a way for you to submit your own news, or tips, on this web site. In the mean time, send your tips to philip (at) the (oneword) batavian dot com.
Philip will post something later today introducing himself.