A REALNEO Welcome to the Newest Observer... the Heights Observer

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 23:11.

April 10, 2008, Heights Observer Volume 1, Number 1 hit the streets with the lead story "Why Citizen Journalism?". Contributing writer Michael Wellman observes "The interaction of two primary themes has largely been responsible for the growth of citizen based journalism: dissatisfaction with the content of traditional media and advancements in technology", and "“A common goal of citizen journalists is to recapture journalism as a truly democratic practice that is thoroughly rooted in -- and thus directly serves -- the real lives and interests of citizens.” (see mcgillreport.org/largemouth.htm)." Wellman also writes of the emergence of "hyper-local" journalism, enabled by Observer Newspapers and preached by Lakewood Observer founder Jim O'Bryan... for good reason.

As the founder of REALNEO, a pioneering and leading citizen journalism initiative in our domain, I share the perspectives of Wellman and O'Bryan, and the 10,000s of citizen jounalists core to this region, that we have recaptured journalism, through advancements in technology! REALNEO effectviely assembles intellectuals from around the world interested in Northeast Ohio regional challenges and progress, at from global to hyper-local levels. But our purpose here is very different than an "Observer", which is designed to exist uniquely at the hyper-local level, on-line and in print, as an asset for a traditional livable community, like Lakewood or East Cleveland.

As a hyper-local resident of East Cleveland, who has long freely supported the city's technology interests, providing their city website, at eastcleveland.org, and helping bridge digital divides here, I have commited to publish an East Cleveland Observer in my community, which should be the next in the Observer family to launch (we were asked to wait until after Heights Observer launched, which was this month). And we are very excited to proceed!

Jim O'Bryan and I have been planning the East Cleveland Observer for a good year, now, and I've worked to develop awareness in East Cleveland that the paper is coming and about what that offers the city and citizens. Consider this city that has been so overlooked or sensationalized in the Cleveland Plain Dealer will now have a means to share news and pride, door to door and with the world, on-line and in print, using the Observer's excellent production model and technologies.

Businesses and government will now be able to communicate directly with East Cleveland citizens, and we'll be able to communicate with each other and the world. We will now have our own community calendar. We'll know more about Shaw than it's band. We'll explore our fascinating history, arts and culture. We'll celebrate our status as KaBOOM!'s most playful city in America, no longer caring that our regional media can't even celebrate an accomplishment this great.

So keep your eyes open for a growing number of Observers around town - participate in these communities, if you feel part of their hyper-local neighborhoods. And to all the good people launching the Heights Observer, I wish you well and look forward to learning from your success

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Crain's Cleveland this week

Talks about Jim O'Bryan (Norm sp? O'Brien) and the Lakewood Observer, Heights Observer and other Observers to come...PD recently tried to revamp the Sun Press papers and it will be interesting to see how this evolves.  Nonetheless, all of these ventures will suffer the same fate--complete disappearance--untill we do a better job of archiving or at least prioritizing the archiving of local stories.

Observer is based on good technology and people

I'm just starting up the East Cleveland Observer with Jim O'Bryan (thanks for pointing that out - I'll need to go correct that) so I'll be able to talk more about the technology after I use it a bit more. But I can say the Observers are created online, by volunteer hyperlocal networks, so I'm confident the very process of creating the Observers protects the content from disappearance - it is that aspect of his business that has sparked the interest of some very big people far beyond NEO. So give this a chance to be the exact opposite of what you would expect in print news - more like REALNEO.

Which brings to mind, what do you think of developing content on REALNEO that we take to print as The REALNEO Observer, still based on-line at REALNEO.US but also in print, putting it in more hands, as another permanent record, which would expand the REALNEO dialog to 100,000s more people in the region, by inserting it in all the Observers in the region. That would gnerage $millions in print ad revenues to support the costs of our cooperative non-profit, without cluttering the online presence with advertising at all - and in the process bridging the digital divide by funding free wifi in Observer neighborhoods and making sure all residents have a computer and internet access at home - which is the social change objective of the foundation that this will fund.

What do you think of that?

And, all that said, I challenge you to become an Observer publisher for your neighborhood, with me and other friends and the team publishing The East Cleveland Observer... and the REALNEO Observer. Be the difference - I'm not kidding! This applies to you, personally, Laura, and all other REALNEO members. You know where to find me... here, at norm [at] realneo [dot] us (yes, my old email is back, thanks Jeff Schuler), or drive-by.

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