Hyperlocal voices: Adirondack Almanack / John Warren

hyperlocal voices - Adirondack Almanack, John Warren

Following a nomination via the Online Journalism Blog Facebook group, this Hyperlocal Voices looks at a US blog: the Adirondack Almanack, which covers the rural Adirondack region of upstate New York.

Launched in 2005 out of frustration with the lack of coverage from the mainstream media, the site now boasts 20 contributors, “mostly veteran local writers, journalists, and editors and includes media professionals from local radio, magazines, and newspapers,” says founder John Warren. Here’s the full interview with John:

What made you decide to set up the blog?

The Adirondacks is home to the largest park and the largest state-level protected area in the contiguous United States (it’s also the largest National Historic Landmark). The park is over 6 million acres in size (that makes it bigger than Vermont, or Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined).

However, about half the land is publicly owned and the rest privately owned, including several villages. That mix of public and private land makes the Park a unique area and fodder for some heated discussions over sustainable development, wilderness, environmental and outdoor recreation issues. I felt strongly that local news media was not fully representing the variety of perspectives on these important issues – many of which are important in other parts of the country as well.

When did you set up the blog and how did you go about it?

The blog was started in 2005 by myself using the Blogger platform.

What other blogs, bloggers or websites influenced you?

I like to think that we’re leading the pack locally. I got into blogging because a saw a need for an Adirondacks-wide news and information source that wasn’t tied to the old political allegiances. I think the site draws perhaps most from the Indy Media sites of the early 2000s when small groups of people were coming together to make their own media from an alternative point of view. The Adirondacks has too small a population and is too widely scattered to have its own independent media center. Online, Adirondack Almanack is the next best thing.

How did – and do – you see yourself in relation to a traditional news operation?

The site is run by a mixed bag of folks including a large number of professional writers, journalists, editors and publishers so we have one foot in old school journalism and one foot in the new media commons. Our contributors tend to have their own styles and they were asked to contribute because their styles complement each other and help set the over tone and style of the Almanack. That said, they have different approaches to what they’re doing – some follow strict journalistic practice, others are more column-like and personal. We try to abide by standard journalism ethics.

In a sense we’re a local news operation, but our local area is enormous (about the size of Vermont) and less densely populated. We’re the only online news source for the whole Adirondack region. Several daily papers mostly ring the region, but aside from the local NPR network North Country Public Radio, we’re the only daily outlet actually covering the whole area.

What have been the key moments in the blog’s development editorially?

The addition of new contributors during the beginning of 2009. Adding additional contributors widened the appeal, helped legitimatize the efforts, and drew new readers.

What sort of traffic do you get and how has that changed over time?

We currently get 30,000 unique visitors a month. The Adirondack region is home to 120,000 full time residents; that number swells to about 1.2 million in the summer.

John is also interviewed here on the Outside.in blog.

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