Barry Parr – Coastsider

Posted on 05. Oct, 2007 by in Hyperlocal

Your work in networked/citizen/collaborative journalism.

I publish Coastsider, a news and community site for coastal San Mateo County — a community of 30,000 people, 30 minutes from San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Although I helped build Mercury Center and CNET, I had never practiced journalism before I started Coastsider in 2004. During the daylight hours, I cover online media and publishing, especially the news business, for JupiterResearch.

What are your goals?

I want to help unify the Coastside community, which has been split apart by fundamental issues between developers and environmentalists. I try to do that with background information on significant local issues, moderated discussion of major issues, and focus on the topics that unify the community.

What are some of your notable achievements?

In 2006, Devil’s Slide — one of two roads connecting the Coastside with the outside world — was severed for four months, Coastsider played a key role in inform the community of what had happened on the slide and what was being done to repair it.

Lesson you’ve learned (including mistakes you’ve made)

Don’t underestimate the traditional media. Our local weekly has responded to some of our strongest challenges with improved coverage of breaking news, a redesigned website, and online discussion forums. They’ve still got vulnerabilities I won’t discuss here, but they’ve done a good job of filling their biggest holes.

Are you getting revenue for this? How?

We take advertising, serving ads using the OpenAds server. We’ve had good luck with community businesses asking us to advertise on the site.

What’s next? What do you need to get to the next level?

In general, money isn’t the constraint for improving Coastsider. The issue is time. I’ve got a lot of ideas that I’d like to implement in local databases, site design, and social networking. But they require time for programming and design that I don’t have right now. I also have some ideas for increasing community participation on the site that I don’t have time to implement. I would like to produce more video for the site. I’m excited about the potential for video in community journalism, once it’s freed from the constraints of traditional production methods.


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