Friday, June 29, 2007

City Needs Its Own Voice

I was unable to attend the June 27 forum on redevelopment, but from what I heard there was some blogger-bashing going on.

Blogging is a phenomenon that is quite new. Rebecca Blood , an early blogger, details the advent of blogs in the late 1990s in her book, "The Weblog Handbook: Practicval Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog."here.

In Plainfield, depending whom you ask, bloggers started spouting off in about mid-2005.

Recently Dan Damon claimed two years’ worth of blogs based on his service to council members with e-mailed clips of noteworthy articles. It did not go public until November 2005.

Plaintalker began in June 2005 with myself and Barbara Kerr in charge. Barbara subsequently left, leaving me to be the blogger-in-charge.

Maria Pellum started a blog this year devoted to the Crescent Area Historic District, but with larger concerns about the Plainfield community and its Latino members.

Recent new blogs include Dr. Gregory Palermo’s tree blog and the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District blog. Both Second Ward candidates, incumbent Cory Storch and challenger Tony Rucker, made campaign blogs

So the format is there for anybody inclined to make a blog on whatever subject.

There is nothing intrinsically good or bad about a blog. The effect of any given blog is a blend of the blogger’s intentions and the readers’ perceptions. Plaintalker was created to fill in what I perceived as a news gap, especially regarding redevelopment. It was the Downtown Station South proposal that set me off.

As luck would have it, I am now writing both a blog and freelance articles for the Courier News. Up until recently, most of my newspaper stories were about local cultural institutions or school events. Lately I have done some news articles as well. Here again, perception plays a role. People tell me, “The Courier only prints bad news.” I then mention some of my freelance articles that show the community and schools in a positive light and the critic acknowledges reading them. But then again I hear that the Courier only prints bad news.

At present, the city’s ability to communicate is impaired by a broken web site and other shortcomings. Until the city improves its own communications with the public, the field is left to newspapers, blogs and gossip in the street or in online forums. An overhaul of the web site is promised by tomorrow. If it’s good, the city will be able to communicate with the public in a useful way.

And if it’s bad, you can bet the blogs will be all over it. The city simply cannot flourish without effective communication with the public. It is a heartache to those who want Plainfield to succeed that its web site, local channel and other means of communication are faulty. In these times, a city’s web site is its face to the world. I look forward to improvement.

--Bernice Paglia


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