Last week, Joshua Micah Marshall left us a very good piece on blogging, explaining his philosophy of what political blogs do. Marshall says that they are 1) "distillers of information" and 2) sources for "original reporting." In the first place, blogs fill a niche that allows them to follow the progress of news stories in ways that the mainstream media (MSM) cannot. Secondly, a fewer number of blogs give pursuit to the "time-consuming and expensive" task of writing news either missed or not broken by the MSM.
I believe that Enclave has been both a distiller of information and a source of original reporting. Distillation has definitely been the easier task. I get up early mornings before my toddler does and wade through various news sources to find the items that I believe are or should be of concern to my hyperlocal readership (some of which extends outside of the North End!). And there is a lot of information to pull and to distill. However, since Enclave is hyperlocal--in its focus on the North End--it is relatively less time-consuming and expensive to break news as it happens in the neighborhoods here. It is much more challenging for political blogs with a larger reach to scoop original news before professional reporters get it. I have not done a count of how many of my posts are distillation and how many are original reporting, but I would guess it would be a split somewhere in the neighborhood of 60%-40%.
However, hyperlocal blogging is not without its challenges. If I were strictly a blogger (and I don't really call myself a "blogger") and I were not involved as a community leader, finding leads and breaking the hyperlocal news would have been much more of a challenge. Most of my original reporting is the result of networking, which I highly recommend. At the same time, if hyperlocals are to stay interesting and keep an audience, they should try to be more than simply electronic bulletin boards telling people when and where the next meeting is. I don't always feel safe carrying my camera and taking pictures of problems, but readers do like to see pictures and I think that they make Enclave look better, so I post them. Also, I catch heat for being a wiseguy with a particular political point of view, but I try to keep things interesting, even for those who don't agree with me. And by all means, I would welcome writers of any partisan bias to join me in team blogging at Enclave if they are interested in the mission.
I heartily recommend hyperlocal blogging as a means both to distill news and to break original stories that otherwise would not emerge. There's so much opportunity, and yet, so few people are doing it.