Neighborhood blogs: the mom-and-pop news business

Running on passion, ground-level media outlets have a business model that's still evolving — or no business model at all.
Crosscut archive image.

The West Seattle Blog.

Running on passion, ground-level media outlets have a business model that's still evolving — or no business model at all.

News blogs about Seattle neighborhoods are sprouting like weeds. Their territory can be as small as the blocks immediately surrounding a park or as vast as West Seattle, created to rally against outside forces or in response to a certain event. They can vary from providing news straight-up to being heavily dosed with humor. Still other news blogs are product tests. Some have advertisements, others don't. Neighborhood blogs can even be "killed" and then reborn with advertising and multiuser capability. Whatever their flavor, even bloggers like to meet in person. A few of the people behind emerging and established neighborhood blogs in Seattle met over pizza and beer recently.

"My name is Andrew, and I'm a blogger," said Andrew Taylor with a deliberate nod to a very different type of meeting. It was first names and blog affiliations around three long tables pushed together in the back room at Piecora's Pizza at the intersection of Capitol Hill and the Central District. Most of the attendees had been invited as news bloggers of record, a handful of others had sought out the informal meeting from a reference in Jerry Large's Seattle Times column, "The news, block by block."

The "guest" list was by no means inclusive, nor was it designed to be exclusive. A current list of neighborhood blogs would be outdated within a day. Most of the 14 present had crossed paths before, often in previous professional capacities. The greatest commonality was curiosity. The type of people who become consumed with tracking land-use permits, police reports, liquor permits, and sirens in the night are bound to be curious about one another. There was discussion about user interface, moderating comments, and ad revenue. I wanted to know: Why are you doing this? I'd assumed the answer would be a cross between neighborhood activism and journalistic interest, but the recent proliferation also suggests people think there's potential for profit and are rushing to stake their claim.

The informal organizers for the event were  

Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors

Peggy Sturdivant

Peggy Sturdivant

Peggy Sturdivant writes a weekly column for the Westside Weekly, and is curator of the It's About Time Writers Reading Series, founder of Ballard Writers Collective, and has worked in environmental consulting and science education.