Hartsville Today online
Well, today is the day we finally get the community news site HartsvilleToday online (parts are still under construction, so pardon our dust).
This J-lab funded project has been awhile in the making as we've run into some delays (my unexpected teaching load and a management shuffle that saw Hartsville publisher Graham Osteen also named co-president of his family's media group), but we also have carefully spent time trying to recruit a wide group of volunteers representative of the community and who, we hope, can seed enthusiasm among others. We purposely did not adopt a "build it and they will come" approach.
We have shunned "citizen journalism" in most of our discussions, preferring instead "community storytelling." Here, for instance, is a Q&A we recently sent out to prospective contributors.
Likewise, we've tried a design that isn't quite so "busy" or "newsy." We're trying to balance a sense of community with the idea that this also is a news site. Thus our use of Drupal software that allows contributors to file "stories" by topic -- and the prominent display of those topics on the front page. For now, we're holding off on the personal blogs with the idea that providing a more structured navigational approach through the topics might work better. We'll look to introduce blogs later.
So we're off and running with a kickoff at The Messenger tonight at 6:30, and we'll see how it goes from here. Among the questions still to be answered: How will the paper's staff take to this?