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My Ballard, Seattle Times form partnership

Posted by Geeky Swedes on August 26th, 2009

We’re excited to announce an editorial partnership with the Seattle Times that encompasses My Ballard and the rest of Next Door Media’s sites, PhinneyWood, Queen Anne View, Magnolia Voice and Fremont Universe. The partnership originated with a grant by American University’s J-Lab, which aims to explore how established media companies can work together with promising neighborhood news sites.

You may have noticed over the last several weeks that SeattleTimes.com and MyBallard.com have been linking each other on stories, and that’s a component of the partnership. We’ll be exploring other ways to work together in coming weeks and months. Our friends at West Seattle Blog, Capitol Hill Seattle and Rainier Valley Post are also part of the partnership.

This is a testament to all of you — our readers, contributors and advertisers — who have helped make My Ballard a part of the neighborhood. My Ballard is powered by the neighorhood, not us. The vast majority of stories originate from our readers, and now some of the best stories will be linked from Seattle’s largest news site. We’re very pleased that the Times has chosen to work together with organic, neighborhood-grown news sites instead of creating competing efforts designed to draw advertising dollars away from the neighborhood.

And, of course, we’d also like to thank the editors of Next Door Media sites in our nearby neighborhoods: Doree Armstrong and Dale Steinke at PhinneyWood.com, John and Loree Schoonover at MagnoliaVoice.com, and Thea Chard and Judy at QueenAnneView.com.

The press release from the Seattle Times follows below…

The Seattle Times forms partnership with local news Web sites

PRESS RELEASE — The Seattle Times and some of Seattle’s most respected neighborhood news Web sites have struck a unique partnership as part of a nationwide Networked Journalism pilot project. The project, which will last one year, is overseen by American University’s J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The other national news organizations participating in the pilot program are The Miami Herald, The Charlotte Observer, the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times and TucsonCitizen.com.

The overall goals of the alliance are to explore new ways to broaden newsgathering capabilities and further connections within the community. The Seattle Times will work with community news producers and Web sites that are staffed with professionals who share The Seattle Times’ journalistic values.

“We’ve been moving down this track already, but much too slowly,” said David Boardman, executive editor of The Seattle Times. “This will both kick-start it, give us a better organizing framework and give us a way to share successes and challenges with others. It’s perfect timing.”

The four local producers and Web sites partnering with The Seattle Times are: Tracy Record, who runs West Seattle Blog and White Center Now; Kate Bergman, who runs Next Door Media, which includes My Ballard, PhinneyWood, Queen Anne View, Magnolia Voice and Fremont Universe; Justin Carder, who runs Capitol Hill Seattle and helped create Neighborlogs, which is the platform for several neighborhood sites in Seattle; and Amber Campbell, who runs the Rainier Valley Post.

The goals of the partnership include: enhancing communication between the respective Web sites and The Seattle Times, and discovering ways to share news tips and collaborate on future news gathering; linking to and promoting stories on partner sites when it may help fill coverage holes; exploring tools that could enhance advertising opportunities across the partner sites; and learning about how such partnerships can benefit the respective sites.

At the conclusion of the project, The Seattle Times will meet with the four other nationally participating news organizations and the lessons learned will appear in an overall J-Lab report on how such Networked Journalism collaborations might work.

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43 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Herschell / Special*Dark // Aug 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Congrats!

  • 2 Silver // Aug 26, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    WOW, guys! That's HUGE!!!

    Way to do it right!!

  • 3 BentonJ // Aug 26, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    I love MyBallard and have contributed story ideas to it often, but I am concerned about this move.

    We – the posters, witnesses, bloggers, etc. are not trained journalists. To mingle what is presented here as journalism further blurs the line of what is “news”.

    Undoubtedly, this is kind of cooperation between neighborhood sites and larger news entities is the way of the future. It is a relatively inexpensive way for The Seattle Times to generate content. However, I fear standards (and beat reporters' jobs) may be lost in the process, and I worry what Cronkite would think…

  • 4 NoraBell // Aug 26, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Very cool. Mon congrats to all!
    And I look at this as more of a surrender by the Seattle Times. ;-)

  • 5 Penny // Aug 26, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Congratulations!

  • 6 donarb // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    And what of the PI? Will they be banned from linking to MyBallard articles?

  • 7 kim1234 // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    i think that the Times already considers the responses submitted by bloggers is not necessarily journalist gold. it's mostly comment. if the Times doesn't get that, we're in a world of hurt. GRATULERAR!

  • 8 gurple // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Congratulations, Swedes! This is a real recognition of the work you've done here.

    And now, let's all prepare for an onslaught of newbies. I'll keep an open mind, but seattletimes.com seems to attract some pretty unsavory individuals. The comments on their Ted Kennedy article, for instance: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/read

  • 9 keyboard kitty // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    So what changes from the perspective of those who want to advertise on here? Err, sorry, I meant “sponsor”.

    Will prices increase?

    Or is this simply a cooperation of pasting links/content between both sites without concern for legal issues?

  • 10 Geeky Swedes // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks Benton for your comments. To be clear, all of our stories (those that appear in the center column of the site) are written by my wife and me, and we're both experienced journalists (KING 5, NWCN, NBC News, KCPQ, etc.) The stories originate from our readers and contributors, and we perform the traditional checks and newsgathering before posting them — a layer of journalism over the top of an empowered community.

  • 11 Geeky Swedes // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    There are no limitations on which sites we can link. For example, we've worked well in the past with KING 5 and KIRO 7, and this partnership does not prohibit any collaboration with them.

  • 12 jm // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I’d be suspicious of any deal with the Times. They’re just looking for free stories because of their own staff reductions.

  • 13 NoraBell // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I'm so afraid of what I'll see there that I didn't even go to the comments section of the Ted Kennedy story. They were bad then? The story itself made me what to punch out the reporter.
    I know I'll do my best not to feed the trolls, though.

  • 14 angelatini // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    I think it's great…and it's the closest my Journalism major will ever get me to being a bona fide journalist. hahahaha

  • 15 Geeky Swedes // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    This is an editorial partnership, not a sales one. No connection whatsoever.

    As for legality, the Times does not assume any risk in linking us, and we've taken the same legal precautions with our own coverage (written by experienced journalists) as any other news organization.

  • 16 ducksinseattle // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    s.b. “my wife and me”

  • 17 ballardmom5 // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    I think it's great! It's just a shame that the local newspaper hasn't also sought a similar relationship (instead of trying to create their own blog).

  • 18 Bangoskank // Aug 26, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    This was exactly what popped into my head as I read the news. Nailed it!

  • 19 Bangoskank // Aug 26, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    While I understand the initial reaction to be hesitancy, I feel that this is a great move and decision by both parties. I also feel it was realistically the next step in new age of journalism.

    I am certain I am not alone in thinking that our “posters, witnesses, bloggers, etc.” can hold just as much merit as the people informing the news papers and tv stations. Only, we can react much faster with the speed and uninterrupted broadcasting by the interwebs. As long as we have a well seasoned journalist fact checking and presenting the information in a professional way (which I'm sure we can all agree the Geeky Swedes are doing a fantastic job at) I think local news will be much more reliable and accessible this way.

  • 20 BTown // Aug 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Booo. It's because MyBallard is doing micro blog news that people car about and Seattle times wants to use that. I think this is a bad thing and the Seattle Times is using you…

    MyBallard is just cheep news for Seattle Times.

  • 21 NoraBell // Aug 26, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    The Times is drowning and grasping at a rope, sure. But it also means a wider readership and more sponsors for MyBallard and the other neighborhood blogs. I have faith that the Geeky Swedes won't let the Times take over this blog they work so hard on.

  • 22 SPG // Aug 26, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Yeah, it's not just the Times comments sections, but newspaper comments across the board include a generous mix of Libertarian cranks, gun nuts, racists, and borderline sociopaths. We saw a few pop up on the health care story and then mostly disappear, so with any luck they'll feel outnumbered and stay away. Besides, most of what they get away with on the newspaper comments would be a violation of the rules here and get their comments pulled.

  • 23 dtbellevue // Aug 27, 2009 at 12:23 am

    What I find strange is that they are doing both, partnering with blogs, and also creating them for some neighborhoods. They don't seem to be consistent across the board.

  • 24 ballardmom5 // Aug 27, 2009 at 1:08 am

    It could be the Times is creating blogs in neighborhoods that don't have one, or one that is as well run as MyBallard…?

  • 25 HeardOnthe44 // Aug 27, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Great news ! (I hope)
    I love that MyBallard is Powered by the People….
    I hope that never changes.

  • 26 Diane // Aug 27, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Let's be clear: “The story itself” came from the AP, it wasn't generated by The Seattle Times. Probably most papers in the country used the same copy or variation of it. So you don't get a choice as to which troll you're feeding.

  • 27 Ernie_98107 // Aug 27, 2009 at 1:53 am

    I agree jm. I can only see how the Times will benefit from this agreement, the Swedes have the micro coverage that they need and, like you said, I'm sure they could use the help.

    As far as MyBallard having links to Seattle Times stories I can't imagine that the Times would have any stories about Ballard that wouldn't have already been covered here in more depth and breadth and a day or two earlier.

    Here's an example,: I read the Times every day too (news junkie) and when I saw that story about cupcake royal on their site I immediately clicked the link to MyBallard and read about it here, without looking at their story at all.

    That said, there is definitely an economic incentive for the Swedes, that is unless they aren't going to charge more for ads when the page hits triple or quadruple on the stories that the Times links to.

  • 28 donarb // Aug 27, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Interesting that this topic comes up today. Over at HorsesAss, Goldy is responding to an editorial by Ryan Blethen (whose family owns the Seattle Times). Blethen is basically saying that bloggers better watch themselves as they are in danger of crossing the line of libel. Nevermind that the media consistently refrains from doing any sort of investigative journalism and call out liars and crazies for what they are. Rather, if someone claims the sky is green, reporters will find someone to refute that, then claim they are fair because both viewpoints were heard. BS!

  • 29 NoraBell // Aug 27, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Ah, but the trolls get fed anyway. Wherever the story comes from people are going to comment on it. When I went back and looked at the comments I saw worse than the story portrayed.

  • 30 leogrrl // Aug 27, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I'm glad to see the enthusiasm posted here, but I have to confess that this news really saddens me. I read myballard.com every day, and I have really come to appreciate its honest voice and authentic perspective. Partnering with a major news source will inevitably bring compromises. And it's impossible to overstate the impact that the mean-spirited trolls out there will have on the very congenial atmosphere this site has created.

    I understand developments like this are part of “progress” and probably are important to the bottom line, but, darn, it's a shame.

  • 31 Diane // Aug 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Those commenters get their marching orders before the sun even comes up. You can see the same thing happening under this morning's (Thursday's) Times editorial (this actually is generated by The Times). It's all boilerplate, sent to them from the right-wing mothership. Or head troll, as the case may be…

  • 32 Gene1 // Aug 27, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    As yet another news junkie and one of the minions who was laid off from The Times last December, I truly hope this relationship helps both parties, especially my beloved MyBallard.

    The Times has essentially gutted its reporting staff, so I can see how it's helped by having neighborhood web sites do the local newsgathering legwork. At least the press release is honest in its depiction of the situation as “linking to and promoting stories on partner sites when it may help fill coverage holes”.

    But outside of bringing more exposure and thus more business to our local sponsors (which is a very good thing), how exactly does this alliance help MyBallard? I mean, the Geeky Swedes have beaten The Times to the punch on a number of important local stories in the recent past so, from a strictly editorial perspective, I too am wondering what we're gaining from this new partnership.

  • 33 Geeky Swedes // Aug 28, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Thank you everyone for your comments. For those who are worried that the new partnership will bring unforeseen changes to My Ballard, we promise to be vigilant to protect the unique neighborhood values of the site.

  • 34 Name // Aug 28, 2009 at 5:13 am

    OMG–American University is part of this??? My Ballard tends to be pretty negative, and I'd like to see Seattle Times be a real newspaper/newslink. 1/2 my kids went to AU and the other half to UW…

    I am not worried that the new partnership will bring unforeseen changes to My Ballard (but that would be a great hope), but more that the negative aspect of My Ballard would be carried over.

  • 35 jm // Aug 28, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    It's a newspaper publisher's dream. Free content from the bloggers and endless tips for stories they never would have found on their own time.

  • 36 Freddie // Aug 29, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Wow, you report, they get the money from advertisers. Great model.

  • 37 justme // Aug 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    how is that any different than this site? You report they get the money from the advertisers. Now they get more hits and can charge more for page hits.

  • 38 Freddie // Aug 29, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I was talking about this site.

    Hey, I think it's great they can find suckers willing to work for free to help their business. More power to MyBallard!

  • 39 ricklewon8 // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:24 am

    This is great news, but may I ask “Are you making any money at MyBallard and all your other sites?” Yes, we live in Seattle and such a question could be thought of as quite silly!–Who needs money when something as altruistic as instant neighborhood media that is unbiased and fair, free from big corporate sponsors and advertisers is your livelihood!

    You do have some advertisers, but does that pay the rent, your salaries, health care, etc? Really, how can great journalism (In depth journalism) be had for free? What is the Times paying you for this service? Yes, great exposure, but really you can just read it on the Times site.

    I come with a huge bias as I am an unemployed journalist and still licking my wounds. Myballard is one of the best, if not the best Hyperlocal News sites in the country. With that said, who is paying the bills? There seem to be a lot of you on foot and you cover each and every single event in many neighborhoods. Where do you find the time? Again, you all will go to your graves having done a super thing in this world with these sites, but again, who is paying the bills?

    Best regards,

    Rick Lewon

  • 40 ricklewon8 // Sep 1, 2009 at 12:31 am

    This is great news, but may I ask “Are you making any money at MyBallard and all your other sites?” Yes, we live in Seattle and such a question could be thought of as quite silly!–Who needs money when something as altruistic as instant neighborhood media that is unbiased and fair, free from big corporate sponsors and advertisers is your livelihood!

    You do have some advertisers, but does that pay the rent, your salaries, health care, etc? Really, how can great journalism (In depth journalism) be had for free? What is the Times paying you for this service? Yes, great exposure, but really you can just read it on the Times site.

    I come with a huge bias as I am an unemployed journalist and still licking my wounds. Myballard is one of the best, if not the best Hyperlocal News sites in the country. With that said, who is paying the bills? There seem to be a lot of you on foot and you cover each and every single event in many neighborhoods. Where do you find the time? Again, you all will go to your graves having done a super thing in this world with these sites, but again, who is paying the bills?

    Best regards,

    Rick Lewon

  • 41 Courtney Bowin Cooper // Jan 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Congrats! This is well deserved!

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