Archive for October 15th, 2010

Sacramento Press Turns 2!

Sacramento Press, the ‘online newspaper’ that brought citizen journalism to town in a big way, celebrates its second anniversary today.

It’s hard to believe how far SacPress has come in two short years.  I was introduced to the site  very shortly after their launch by MM’s old business director, Brian Fischer, who told me to take a look at the ‘future of journalism.’  There were a few articles, a few editorials, and a couple of pictures.  To put it bluntly, I was unimpressed.

Cut to a month later when they had started an incredibly suave  awareness campaign (including, full disclosure, some MM ads) and a distinct buzz was starting around the project.  I checked back in on the site, and whoa, there was something there!  Almost from the beginning, SacPress garnered a devoted following of volunteer contributors who filled the site with a wide variety of content.  To their credit, SacPress founders Ben Ilfield and Geoff Samek had tapped into the zeitgeist that propelled sites like MySpace and YouTube to such success and applied the same user-driven concepts to the community newspaper.  The nearly instant transformation from empty site to thriving community was pretty amazing. 

My one complaint about SacPress 1.0 was that there was no editorial vetting of contributors or their information.  An early fluff-up ocurred when it was revealed that a pro-KJ article had been posted by Johnson’s own brother- with no revelation that he had any relationship (the two have different last names) with Johnson.  I read a few SacPress articles about arts or creative stuff that turned out to be written by the people who were also the subject of the articles!  The plan was that the site would be self-regulating, and truth is that the SacPress community (often in the form of the indefatigable Bill Burg) usually responded quickly, filling out or correcting information.

As the site grew and added more editorial staff (including  well known former Bee staffer David Watts Barton), the decision was made to add more oversight and accountability to the contribution process.  This single change (to my mind, anyway) improved the site immeasurably; the overall quality of the posts skyrocketed.

Two years in, and Sacramento Press has become a vital part of the city’s public dialogue.  Congratulations to Ben and Geoff (and all the folks over there) on adding a voice to the Sacramento mediascape, and for succeeding in one of the darkest times for media companies, and the economy at large.  They have done something very difficult, and they’ve done it very well.  

Happy Birthday!