Failed citizen journalism experiment? | 802 Online
Pin It

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Failed citizen journalism experiment?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 17, 2007 at 10:46 AM

No, I'm not talking about Assignment Zero or Backfence. I'm referring to iBurlington — "Burlington Vermont's Blog" — a local citizen journalism site, launched in 2005.

Creator Brian Brown had high hopes for the project, which he modeled after the successful CJ community iBrattleboro. In March of 2005, Brown told Seven Days  he expected to sign up more contributors and get more traffic than iBrat, if only because Burlington's a bigger city.

But it didn't happen that way.

Despite spurring bloggers like Haik Bedrosian to start their own sites, iBurlington never really caught on. At some point over the last year, Brown quietly abandoned the site, despite the fact that it still displays his info. For the past several months, iBurlington's only contributor has been marijuana activist Cris Ericson.

If you're a Vermonter, you may remember Ericson from the ballot — she's a perennial candidate, who ran for Governor and Vermont Senator in 2006 as an independent. The headline of her latest post — IS IBM CREATING WEAPONS THAT COULD TARGET JEWS BASED ON THEIR DNA?

Yes, in all caps.

I emailed Brian at his iBurlington address to ask him about the site. He responded saying that, though he had set it up so that all postings would be approved by him, somehow in the last year postings had been getting through without his approval.

"I haven't bothered to read them or pay much attention to them," he writes, adding that he has "no plans" to go further with iBurlington.

Brian hasn't responded to my follow-up email, but as someone pointed out in the comments thread on the last post, Brian is apparently living in Wisconsin, working as a consultant — at least according to his website, which looks like it hasn't been updated in a few months.

I guess it's safe to say that Brian has walked away from iBurlington — which is too bad, I think. I worked with Brian briefly on the Winooski Eagle site, which he's also apparently abandoned. At one point, he had plans to host a whole network of citizen journalism sites. Guess that fell through.

Creating a thriving online citizen journalism site is a huge commitment, requiring a lot of face-to-face human interaction and organizing. You have to let people know the site's out there, you have to teach them to use it, and you have to inspire them to care about it. And you have to be willing to do all of that essentially for free. At least at first, and possibly for a long, long time.

These are things iBrat's founders have said again and again.

Incidentally, two members of the iBrattleboro community traveled all the way to North Beach in Burlington for the Bloggers BBQ last Sunday. Yet another measure of iBrat's success.

Front Porch Forum founder Michael Wood-Lewis was also at the BBQ. FPF is a neighborhood email newsletter, not really a web-based tool, but it's definitely succeeding in some respects where iBurlington failed. That just occurred to me as I was writing this post, and it's definitely something to think about.


Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It

Did you appreciate this story?

Show us your ❤️ by becoming a Seven Days Super Reader.

About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Deputy publisher Cathy Resmer is an organizer of the Vermont Tech Jam, and compiles a weekly tech e-newsletter every Monday. She also oversees HR, helps manage Seven Days' digital staff and oversees its parenting publication, Kids VT. In 2018, she designed and administered a statewide youth civics project, the... more

More by Cathy Resmer

  • Social Sentinel, Burlington Code Academy and Maureen McElaney Win Awards at 12th Vermont Tech Jam
  • Vermont's Top Innovators Honored at Tech Jam 2018

    Social Sentinel, a Burlington-based company that identifies threatening content on social media, was among the winners of the 2018 Tech Jam awards, presented last Friday at the 12th Vermont Tech Jam. The prizes, given annually by the Vermont Technology Alliance, BTV Ignite and Seven Days, recognize leaders in the state's tech ecosystem. The awards ceremony was the culmination of a busy day at the free career and tech expo organized by Seven Days and presented by Vermont Works. Representatives from more than 50 companies and colleges talked with hundreds of attendees who walked the expo floor. Jeff Couture, executive director of the Vermont Technology Alliance, said he talked with job seekers from across Vermont and outside the state at the event, "including someone, suitcase in hand, who visited from North Carolina."
    • Oct 23, 2018
  • Inspiring Projects to See, Hear and Play With at the Vermont Tech Jam
  • Inspiring Projects to See, Hear and Play With at the Vermont Tech Jam

    • Oct 17, 2018
  • The Tech Issue — 2018
  • The Tech Issue — 2018

    • Oct 17, 2018
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in 802 Online

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2019 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation