We launched CentralDistrictNews.com almost exactly three years ago as a software experiment. We had been building the Neighborlogs service for about 10 months before that, and we wanted a real-life way to “eat our own dog food”, which is the software term for using what you build so that you know first-hand how it operates. It was all done in a rush one afternoon when a car ran over a baby stroller in a freak accident on 23rd Avenue.
We never expected CDNews to be a major focus of our efforts. But within a few weeks of light coverage, we developed a dedicated audience. And the interaction with that audience and the exploration of news in the neighborhood became an addictive process. Traffic continued to grow and we continued to feed news stories big and small onto the site. Now the site has hundreds of thousands of monthly page views, tens of thousands of unique readers, and thousands of registered users who form a close-knit online community of physical neighbors. In that time we’ve had just shy of 4,000 stories, thousands of photos, and tens of thousands of comments.
But CDNews was never our full time job. Most hours of the day were spent with software development, customer support, sales, and business meetings. But we could never resist the urge to keep up with the news of the day and try to keep our dedicated audience satisfied.
This week we’re making major changes at Instivate, our parent company that got its start in 2007. We’re rolling back our efforts on Neighborlogs and our content tools, and refocusing everything on our Seattle-based local advertising network.
And as part of that change, I’m stepping away from the company I founded, and starting next week in a really exciting new job at another local company. Justin Carder, our long-time VP of Business Development, will be taking over day to day operations at Instivate and driving things forward with the new strategic plan.
Those changes at Instivate will mean some changes here at CDNews too. The new job will require a huge amount of time and focus from me, meaning that I will no longer be able to be the main contributor, publisher, and editor of CentralDistrictNews.com. Some features will take a big hit, most notably the scanner, which has only worked through the years because we had quiet time in the office while we took care of other development tasks. It’s unlikely that we’ll find anyone else with the time and patience to take that on.
We’re actively looking for a new editor and contributors to come in an take things over from here. And in the meantime Justin will be helping to make sure things run smoothly here on the site.
But I won’t be going away completely. I expect to have some weekend time to devote to the stories that will still interest me and keep me curious about what’s going on in the neighborhood, and the occasional evening or early morning post to fill in where I can.
One of the funniest things over the last few years has been how the new people I’ve met refer to me as a journalist and know me primarily through what happens here on the site. It’s always seemed strange because my background is completely at odds with that and because so much of my less-visible time was spent on technology and business. But the fact is that in the new world being a journalist is much more about what you do than who you are or who you work for or what your educational background is.
Can you string a few words together to tell a story? Are you curious about what’s going on around you and have a few minutes to make a phone call, send an email, or go to a community meeting? Can you approach issues honestly and compassionately, even if you have and state your own strong feelings on a subject?
If so, you too can be a journalist. And the internet gives you an immediate and effective platform to do it.
And if you do ever give journalism a try, I hope it’s as rewarding experience and I’ve had here on CDNews. Thinking about the upcoming changes the other day, I realized I’ve never done anything else in my personal or professional life that has generated so many supportive and encouraging comments from so many people. And nothing else I’ve done has resulted in so many online friends developing into lasting real-world friends.
But the bottom line is that the upcoming changes are good and necessary, and CDNews will live on with new voices and new personalities. So if you’re a reader, keep coming back. And if you’re an advertiser, please hang with us as we’ll depend on ads to provide salaries for the new contributors.
And a big thanks to everyone for making this such a fun experiment in neighborhood news!