You Write the Story: What Happened at Tuesday's HPC Meeting on the Pure Oil Plans?
An Experiment in Citizen Journalism: Let us know what you think the headline and lead should be from the Tuesday night Historic Preservation Commission meeting.
I've always enjoyed challenging the conventions of the newspaper industry.
Once, when I was editor-publisher at The Beacon-News, we let a group of Rotary members sit in our afternoon planning meeting and pick the front-page stories—just to see how a regular Joe or Jane's news judgment might differ from that of the salty professionals that sat around that same table every day.
We've done "theme" newspapers that carry a thought or icon through every section. We did promotional materials in which my image would pop onto a page—hanging from the masthead or sitting in a zenlike pose—to explain what we were doing with the newspaper's design and why. On occasion, we'd fill a front page with an editorial or leave it blank to focus your eye on a single image. Years before it was fashionable, we'd produce online content that bounced you to the print product, and print content supplemented by the digital.
We didn't do it every day—and every experiment wasn't celebrated in Editor & Publisher—but our goal always was to surprise and delight.
Here's my latest crazy idea of the day, this time for Patch. It is born of necessity, and it requires your participation.
For a lot of years, we've talked about citizen journalists. The idea being that you don't have to be a hired reporter to report news. Everyone has eyes and ears and brain cells, and together, maybe we can come up with a type of reporting that goes beyond the inverted pyramid or a single newsperson's point of view.
So often in the past, journalists and editors spoke in a voice of AUTHORITY, in all caps, and maybe we wielded too much of it. Today's journalism might not be better than that of the past, but it's more conversation than narration. It's concerned more with fairness than objectivity; it values multiple viewpoints over its own.
But I'm digressing, which is my curse and talent.
What I'd like to do today is ask you to report what happened at Tuesday night's Historic Preservation Commission meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Let us know in the comments section of this story what you think the headline should be, as well as the "nutgraph" and the lead. Throw in a meaningful quote if you like.
If your "reporting" turns into a conversation, so much the better. But I'm curious to see what your response will be and what, if anything, we learn from the experiment.
The reason I'm not going to the meeting tonight is simple. My daughter has a band concert at Geneva High School. And though I love my job enoromously, I love my daughter more. So that's where I'll be tonight rather than sitting next to you at City Hall.
Hey, look! That last paragraph just challenged another convention: breaking that invisible barrier between professsional journalist with a capital J and moving into the realm of journalist/dad/human being—me talking to you, rather than at you, and presenting you the man behind the curtain.
And that man is asking for your help.
If you attend the HPC meeting tonight, let us all know what happened and why. You'll be doing your neighbors a favor, and you'll be adding to the conversation about our favorite place to live, our hometown, Geneva.
P.S. — I just thought of this: You can also blog on Patch. If you've got more to report or say than fits into the comments field, click on "Blog on Patch," and you can post your own, full story on our homepage, pending my approval.