Tag Archives: blogging

Today's goal: let more folks know we exist

I got a message via Facebook this morning (around 1:15 a.m.) I fired off a response by 1:35 a.m. because I thought it was the right thing to do. That’s the weird thing about running this blog – you want to connect with people as soon as possible because you think it’s the right thing to do. If you don’t, you find that some folks think that you’ve slighted them or don’t want to talk with them.

If you have a blog you have friends who think that everyone knows who you are because of it. I know better and am quite happy when I meet someone who has no clue that the site existed before and who are happy that we’re here. That said, I’d like to spend some time connecting with all of you this morning because it’s the right thing to do.

We need your help to get the word out and to share the voices of Birmingham.

First, an introduction to new readers (and a more succinct version for long time readers) explaining what we are. We’re a blog – hyperlocal is the term that’s thrown around a lot (or citizen journalism) – about Birmingham, AL. The goal is to be a site that can reflect some of the personality and many of the voices of this fair Magic City and its surrounding area while covering news, arts, culture, opinion, a pending comic strip and maybe even sports (read: UAB, Miles College, Birmingham Southern & Samford – NOT Alabama or Auburn) if we can find the manpower to do it. I say we because we’ve had as many as twelve and as few as two folks contributing stories to this site since March 2007.

We are one of the oldest hyperlocal blogs in the Southeastern United States, coming into existence shortly before the launch of Consuming Louisville in Kentucky in 2007 (and I’d love to meet Michelle Jones one day soon). Every once in a while we hope that Stanley Holditch may get the feeling to write a Birmingham-centric article on the Fleabomb.com website, but we don’t think that’ll be happening soon.

We’ve averaged 9,000 unique visitors to these pages a month with very little advertising save for the occasional mention in the paper, a lucky tweet or two and our initial following on MySpace. The thought was simple: there are a lot of voices in this city, whether they be about music, politics or food. The hope was (and remains) that we can occasionally remind you that they’re here and waiting for you to explore. We’ve also started a weekly conversation on Twitter on Tuesday evenings called #bhamchat and we look forward to finding ways to get more folks that don’t use Twitter involved in the near future.

So why write to you this morning? I’d like to throw down a challenge to metro Birmingham. I need you. I need you to submit story ideas by either using our story submission page (as soon as it launches this evening) or via email. I need you to lend your voices to the conversations that happen on and offline. I need the help of those that read this site to tell others that we exist and we need their voices. If you’re a fan of The Terminal on Facebook or a follower on Twitter, let your friends know about it and let’s see where this conversation can take us.

If you have a few dollars that you can spare (or a coffee habit you’d like to kick or even an urge to fight a craving for a special dog from Pete’s), we’d love if you would consider becoming a voluntary supporter of  The Terminal or consider purchasing a shirt from our store on Spreadshirt.

Most of all, if you want to lend your voices in a more recurring way, our next contributors meeting will be this Thursday, August 6, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Shift WorkSpace. It’d be nice to get folks that can tell stories in the way they feel most comfortable.

I’m not one that particularly cares about tracking numbers, though I know it would demonstrate to others just what we’ve been able to do so far and help us reach more people. I have a selfish goal of seeing if we can get more than 1,000 people to follow us on Facebook and 2,000 to be following us on Twitter before the end of the day. I don’t have any prizes to provide; just the promise that if you help us spread the word, The Terminal will be able to do more for you. Maybe this exercise will lead to a couple of prizes coming our way…

The redesign of the site (which should be complete before 5 p.m. on Friday) should also help folks find what they’re looking for, complete with a few surprises.

Thanks in advance and enjoy the ride!

Where is the ethical line nowadays?

This post has nothing to do with the current state of our public officials here in Birmingham or the standards that we may be unrealistically attempting to hold them up to (at least, not yet).

It begins as a response to an ever growing debate on the blogosphere and the newsrooms, both physical and virtual, about what it is that the people want and if we as bloggers and mainstream media should give it to them.

The decision by TechCrunch to publish some of the documents that were stolen from Twitter has led some to want to cast stones about where “the line” is that should not be crossed.

Personally, I’m not quite sure that the line’s moved from where it was; I think we’ve just chosen to ignore it more often.

I do feel that we’ve become more accustomed to getting whatever we want whenever we want. This leads to voices becoming lost in the digital wilderness of finger pointing and innuendo. It is also not limited to the digitial world as we become frustrated with terrestrial radio stations and political representation – despite the fact that our choices have helped lead to what we’ve received, whether intentionally or not.

No one is immune from this, but it is possible to tone down the rhetoric just a little and see if we can’t get folks to think of solutions instead of dwelling on the doom and gloom.

Andrew Keen’s column in today’s Daily Telegraph about the situation, published while most of the metro Birmingham area was asleep in bed but just as our morning anchors started their days, said as much. According to a Tweet he sent out around 3 a.m., it cost him just a couple hundred followers. I’ll be interested in seeing what my comments cost me.

Continue reading

What would Larry say on a blog?

Larry Langford - acnatta/FlickrCould you imagine the conversations that would result from Birmingham’s mayor, Larry Langford, taking his ideas directly to the blogosphere? We had definitely thought of it and all of the possibilities – that’s why we offered him a chance to write a weekly column here on my Birmingham during the early days of his administration. We also tried to include him in the interviews that we conducted as part of our election coverage. We never received an official response from him on either of those invitations.

One may ask, “Why would the mayor want to share his thoughts with us using a blog platform?” The better question may be “Why not?” Mayors across the country have turned to the blogosphere to share their thoughts for the future of their city, to control potential spin on comments and to help shape their image of #1 cheerleader of the city. Maybe some folks would be a little nervous about giving Larry that much access to us, or that he wouldn’t have access to enough people. That hasn’t stopped Mayor Slay of St. Louis, who recently used his blog to voice his opinions surrounding what’s become today’s announcement about IN Bev’s purchase of Anheuser-Busch. Huntsville’s mayor, Loretta Spencer, hasn’t posted since late January but saw the benefit of having one set up. Mayors in Richmond, VA; Phoenix, AZ; and Miami, FL all use their blogs to broadcast announcements affecting the day-to-day lives of their citizens and to share their ideas for the future of their cities.

Maybe the immediate feedback would help temper some of the grandiose aspirations that have come out of the mayor’s office – though we were all warned that we were going to have to hold on tight back on Election Night. He also doesn’t seem to be one that likes to be criticized or second- guessed (that’s why we’re still expecting fireworks at 5:15 p.m. tonight). It would be funny to see how he’d react to the instant, immediate and sharp wit shared both in support of him and against him via blog comments.

Some may wonder why we wanted him to participate on this site in the first place. Our answer is simple, “Wouldn’t you?” It would be a great way to truly encompass all thoughts and perspectives on issues in our community directly from mayor’s mouth. “Where does he actually want to lead the city?” “What has to happen to get there?” “What else do we need to know before a decision can be made?” These are all questions that are asked by a lot of people nowadays that would be easily answered if he or anyone else in his position chose to join the conversation wholly. Until then, it remains a guessing game, one that could lead many to wonder with all of the ideas floating in Larry’s head, imagined or otherwise, what more don’t we know.

André Natta is the managing editor of The Terminal.