I'm stepping down from my post as editor of Castro Valley Patch to spend more time with my family—sounds like a press release about a CEO or politician's resignation after a scandal, doesn't it?
Well, it's true ... minus the scandal.
No replacement yet. Regional editor will let you know when she's ready to announce that. In the interim, you'll see the work of associate regional editor David Mills' invisible hand, along with those of guest editors who will help him out.
I'm moving to the Santa Cruz mountains and will give occasional writing, editing and critical-thinking workshops at corporations in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, which is what I did for 10 years before I came to Patch in March 2011. My last day will be Sept. 30.
Here's the legacy I'm most proud to leave you with: , , and . They were my "fabulous four" first CV Patch bloggers, as I referred to them behind the scenes at the time. I recruited them, which somehow makes me feel fabulous, too.
David generously crowd-sources stories on his Facebook fan page CV Legends. If you follow news about "new journalism," you know that this kind of reporting is in vogue right now and makes David a star in the eyes of people who follow such trends, including mine.
David also broke news and profiled local businesses. Perfect.
Rachel is a research chef with an activist streak. I had to lightly edit one of her posts to keep her and her children from being thrown in the clink (I'm only partially kidding here). She has also prompted the school district to take a look at its menu and see what might be done to improve nutritional value without losing diners.
Steve is an entrepreneur and humanitarian. If money is being raised for local schools or polio immunizations abroad, you are likely to find Steve behind the scenes building a website, joining the board of a foundation or co-chairing a music festival to drum up support.
Heather is a storyteller with infectious goodwill. Inviting and inclusive though her blog posts and many superb historical photos may be, her social giftedness is most apparent in person. She knits people together, gently wafting through a mixer or function with charisma diluted by an equal part of thoughtfulness, leaving unity in her wake.
Helping a community realize its potential
"Why so sentimental?" you may ask. Because that's how I really am, that's why. In new journalism, you get to reveal your opinion and personality more often, as long as you label it as such. Or as Lady Gaga would explain it, "I was born that way." I am sentimental.
But it's also because I view Patch as more than a news and blogging website. As Steve once put it, it's a platform for "helping our community realize its potential."
Unlike other social media, Patch lets you connect with people online and then put your feet on a common pavement to go meet in person to take action, not just chat.
Patch is a reflection of those who participate
I've often compared Patch with a mirror. Hold it up and you'll see yourself, Castro Valley. If you don't, then you can blame yourself because .
With all of that said, maybe now you can see why I take special pride in the "fabulous four." I'm a former Peace Corps Volunteer who thinks journalism is a great tool for community-building and improving people's lives. Civic-minded people who want to advance the good causes of those around them are my kindred spirits.
Citizen journalists take center stage
Having come to Patch from the Silicon Valley technology industry, I'm very interested in the movement, most clearly illustrated by bloggers. I'm thrilled that the barriers to entry have been removed and that anybody can begin reporting and publishing, from their own perspective.
That said, there's a steep learning curve ahead. I believe that citizen journalists are discovering the hard way what professional journalists have long practiced, as well as finding out that reporting is a lot harder and more time-consuming than they realized.
Commenters are also learning, if given feedback by moderators. My idealistic wish: that there would be as much listening as talking in the comment streams, that people would go gather facts and other resources to share, not just immediately vent, antagonize or throw stones.
Imagine if people collectively solved problems in comment streams? Why not? The potential is there. It could happen.
More fabulous contributors
After the first "fab four" came several more beneficent bloggers: , , , , , and coming soon is Sharon Travers for . (More are in the pipeline.)
Preceding and in between those arrivals are those of the people whom Patch refers to as "contributors." They are the columnists and freelancers: , , , , , , , , , and others who helped Patch in its early days before I arrived.
Also: photographers , and , and videographer .
And our members: Yvonne Lee, Sara Raymonds, Kendra Galordi-Frautnick, Michelle Hall, Amanda Sanders, Tracy Mills, Jamie Ireland, Lisa Arens, Danielle Keil, Gail Morris, Sophie Taylor, Dana Leipold.
In a category all her own is Castro Valley resident and San Lorenzo Patch editor, who made herself indispensable as a Patch freelancer and guest editor for many Patch sites but perhaps most often and with the most passion for Castro Valley Patch.
Analisa is the one who brought you the story about the after he reached into the back seat to pick up a baby bottle. The crash killed his toddler and injured his 7-year-old.
Click to see that story and to see of her experience.
Word of mouth since September 2010
If you are new to Castro Valley Patch, you may not realize that it began in September 2010 and began to grow slowly via word of mouth. At first, staff and freelancers took photos and gathered information to build a directory of businesses, then editorial content and ads followed. Two years earlier, the first-ever Patches launched on the East Coast. Now there are around 850 Patches nationwide.
Patch will keep changing. New capabilities turn up every month or two, it seems. In addition to original reporting, Patch increasingly will offer one-stop shopping by aggregating and curating content of interest to people locally. Those are industry jargon words for collecting and massaging information to best meet a particular readership's needs.
Why I believe Patch will thrive
A few weeks ago, commenters debated Patch's viability. Personally, I believe Patch will thrive. Forward-thinkers for the past several years have been predicting that the big advertising money will be in content aggregation and curation. Patch is headed there.
I have more opinions of this nature—very positive ones—but it's not appropriate for me to say too much about my employer's business plans. Let's just say instead that I think a good number of industry observers are looking at Patch through an outdated lens.
Potency of local passion
Most convincing of all is the spark that I see and hear in CV Patch contributors themselves. The founders of Patch tapped into something potent when they invited citizen journalists to co-create hyper-local content. Although Patch hired professional journalists to do original reporting and oversee curation, what gives me the liveliest hope is the passion of the citizen journalists I've met in Castro Valley.
Thank you, Castro Valley, especially to those of you who became my friends. Stay in touch.