I spent last weekend in San Francisco at the Association of Alternative Newsmedia's Web Conference, and over the three days of seminars, panels, etc., there was a lot of discussion about how best to interact on the Web with readers, both old and new.
When altweeklies like ours jumped on the Web (and we were one of the first, way back in 1995), it was mostly to provide another place for people to read the stuff that also went in the printed product. Over time, the mission of most of our websites has evolved—in terms of breaking news, but also in terms of providing all sorts of expanded coverage and services.
The challenge is coming up with the best way to utilize our limited resources. Yes, maybe we could, as one speaker suggested, become a home for well-produced multimedia pieces, but that's hard to justify for us, regarding the time and what we get back from that sort of thing in readership.
One thing I did come away with from the conference was the idea of expanding our online offerings to include more community voices. Now, that's a dangerous idea, since we could just open things up to anyone with an opinion and have a resulting flood of information of dubious value. Instead, I want to look for experts who have something to share on topics that we don't cover extensively—and would give something interesting to people who come to our site. We do this a little with the weekly Talking Comics video and This Week in Tucson Bicycling column, but I will be on the lookout for more.
If you think you fit these criteria, let me know.
The week on The Range
We watched with a tear as Gabrielle Giffords resigned on the House floor; kept up with the aftermath, including Frank Antenori's attempt to replace her, and Jesse Kelly's alleged poll showing that he has an early lead in that race; shared Pima Community College Chancellor Roy Flores' retirement; kept up with the latest in the ethnic-studies controversy, including one publisher's offer of free books to affected students; asked if Pima County Democratic Party chairman Jeff Rogers is abusing his office; let you know that Jonathan Paton is running in the new Congressional District 1; reminded you of the deadline to register for the Arizona Presidential Preference Primary (and, sadly, it's too late now to get in on the fun); started making plans to move to the moon (if Newt Gingrich gets into the White House); and announced the first-ever Project White House Beer Summit.
We let you know about a new "gastropub" of sorts; alerted you to the latest food-truck roundup; watched a short film about an acclaimed maker of pork products; and let you know that 47 Scott is now serving brunch.
We went to the Pima Air and Space Museum to look at some artistically decorated planes; followed one local poker player's chase to win nearly $200,000; suggested you consider seeing A Lull, Silverbell and Citizen Cope; marveled at some stunts done aflame; cringed at a video by Cloud Nothings; wished KGUN meteorologist Erin Christiansen well; gave you the opportunity to win tickets to see Brad Garrett at Casino del Sol; shared a new song by Fun.; squealed with glee over a few concerts coming to town; and witnessed an impromptu hip-hop battle.
Comment of the week
"Administrate' is not a word. 'Administer' is. The rest of the piece is merely silly."
—TucsonWeekly.com commenter DRW might want to consult a dictionary before making proclamations about what is and isn't a word ("Guest Opinion: Is Jeff Rogers Abusing His Office?" The Range, Jan. 27).
Best of WWW
Let's take a moment to appreciate the man behind This Week in Tucson Bicycling, Mike McKisson. The guy works a full-time job at the University of Arizona, is getting a master's degree at night, has a family at home, keeps up with everything happening in the world of Tucson bicycling for his own site (TucsonVelo.com), and then recaps the week's news for us. Obviously, we're thankful for the content he provides, but we're also thankful that he's out there in general, collecting information about something he cares about deeply and sharing it with others. His site is the sort of thing that the Internet made possible, and the city's a better place for his contribution.