Community blogs open up HeraldNet to fresh voices

The Herald wants its website, HeraldNet.com, to be the go-to place for Snohomish County. To do that, it needs great local content — lots of content.

But if you read news websites — and there’s a good chance you’re reading one right now — you’ve probably heard that newsroom staffs aren’t exactly growing. The Herald is no exception.

And no matter how big a newspaper staff might be, there will always be some topics that go uncovered. So how does a newspaper add this content to its website? One way is to look outside the newsroom. Over the past year, The Herald has reached out to established local bloggers and nonprofit organizations to share their community blogs on HeraldNet.

While Herald journalists continue to do the core reporting and remain accountable for what’s in the paper and on HeraldNet, the website benefits from having a different perspective on some subjects, said Neal Pattison, The Herald’s executive editor.

“It is easy to divide news into large topics — local government, world affairs, business, sports,” he said. “But there are numerous pockets of interesting news that fall within these large blocks — and sometimes between the blocks.”

Having a diverse group of contributors from Snohomish County helps the paper connect with those pockets of interest, Pattison said.

“I am always fascinated to learn that we have people with deep interests and commitments to things like local music, gardening and the challenges of parenthood,” he said. “And we have a better website when they share these things with all of our readers.”

What’s in it for the bloggers? Well, they’re not getting rich. They’re unpaid with the exception of some columns that are also used in print. What the bloggers gain is some exposure and readers for their own sites or their organizations’ websites.

“We have gotten a great response from Herald readers who might not have found us as readily,” said Richard Woolf, who coordinates the “A Reading Life” blog for the Everett Public Library. The blog collects book reviews and musings from library staff.

For Steven Graham, who writes the “What Radio?” blog about the local music scene, it’s about sharing his passion with a wider audience.

“Sharing my blog with The Herald means I get to share my voice in the community,” Graham said. “It gives me a chance to be in the middle on an emerging music community and help others spread the word about things I feel are important.”

For Jennifer Bardsley, who writes “I Brake for Moms,” it’s about making connections and sharing ideas for other moms.

“The learning ideas I share midweek, from my background in teaching, are hopefully helpful. It’s also fun being able to showcase cool ideas for kids from the local community.”

The Herald tries to make it easy for bloggers to provide content, so there is little or no technical expertise required of them to set up and post to their blogs. Most simply email when they have a new blog post ready.

“Setting up with HeraldNet was quite easy,” said Cory Graff, who writes the “Flight Paths” blog about the airplanes of the Flying Heritage Collection. “A few emails back and forth and we’d hammered out most of the details.”

Graham had a similar experience with his music blog: “I wrote an email, made a phone call and I was up and running. I was actually really surprised at how easy it was,” he said.

Each week, Here at The Herald provides an inside peek at the newspaper. Is there something you would like to know? Email executive editor Neal Pattison at npattison@heraldnet.com.

Want to blog?

If you’re interested in sharing your blog with HeraldNet, email Web Editor Doug Parry at parry@heraldnet.com.

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