Downtown blog goes non-profit

Exciting and fairly big news in the world of Los Angeles blogs. Eric Richardson announced today that his blogdowntown has been accepted into an incubator program at Community Partners and will operate as a not-for-profit community journalism project. The blog already was the most thorough and thoughtful independent Downtown website. Richardson posts:

We believe that by creating a non-profit to run blogdowntown, we are making a statement that we want this site to be a public service for Downtown Los Angeles.

When I started blogdowntown in January of 2005, there wasn’t much of a plan attached to it. I had been writing about Downtown – where I had lived for a whole eight months at that point – and the site was just a place for those stories to go. I quickly got more involved in what was going on, and the site’s content evolved along with my understanding of the issues.

In May of 2007, I asked Dave Bullock and Ed Fuentes to join blogdowntown. The story announcing their addition was titled ”More Conversation.” Our goal was and is to cover the issues affecting Downtown in a way that educates readers, allowing them to enter the conversation and help to shape Downtown’s path.

Our internal conversations about what the future of the site looked like have been going on ever since. In particular, Ed Fuentes and I have both agreed and debated long and hard about where we wanted to see the site go and what models existed to take it there.

There have been a lot of interesting trends in journalism recently, some good, some bad. One of the more intriguing is the rise of not-for-profit news and the idea that local stories are a public good rather than a product.

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We’re still getting a handle on how all of the details work, so bear with us if we don’t have the answers to all your questions right away. We’ve got some really cool announcements that will be coming up shortly, and what we think are some great ideas to expand on what blogdowntown has been doing. No matter what else happens, this should certainly make for an interesting ride. It’s time to switch gears and see if we can turn some of our theory into practice.

Richardson tells me: "We'll be putting an Advisory Board together and starting to raise money in the next few weeks. We've had a lot of good meetings as we've gotten to this point, but obviously real success will be determined by whether people respond when we go out looking for financial support. Aside from just the Downtown aspect of this, I'm really excited about this as a trend in journalism. It's a model that's popping up here and there around the country these days, and I think it has a lot of exciting promise."


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