Circulation is down at the LAT. The OC Register and the San Diego Union-Tribune are both offering buyouts. The Weekly is in it deep (Jill Stewart is a big news, but has anyone caught on to the fact that they’ve laid off all the fact checkers?).
What’s an LA Newsie to do? Take the news into you own hands, brother.
BrooWaha, an interactive online “citizen newspaper,” was recently started up in LA by Israeli/Parisian Ariel Vardi who wanted to “create an unbiased, reliable source of local and global news written by a large community of amateur writers and journalists.”
It’s rough right now, but we think we see where it’s going, and damnit if it doesn’t have heart! Maybe there’s hope for journalism in this town after all — even if none of the journalists in town are part of it.
In true citizen newspaper form, Vardi gives FBLA the scoop himself:
Q: What is a “citizen newspaper”?
A: A citizen newspaper is an outlet where everyone can participate and share interesting news found on the web or write original news articles. Certain websites focus on the former (digg.com, newscloud.com, etc.) while BrooWaha focuses on the latter.
Q: Oh. Does that mean it’s not good?
A: Not necessarily. I have a lot of respect for professional journalists and feel they do high-quality work. However, I do believe that journalism is flawed in the sense that its community is very closed. Who decides what’s worth an article in a paper? An incredible number of great stories are never told or they’re forgotten because some panel decided not to include them. But who should decide? BrooWaha’s premise is that only the readers should. That is why one of BrooWaha’s main goals is giving power back to the readers.
In addition to that, professional journalists are often sometimes disconnected from the local scene, and therefore miss many of the little stories that make our cities what they are. This flaw is inherent to professional journalism because there are simply not enough of them; they can’t be everywhere at once.
But normal citizens are everywhere and they have the power to tell these important stories. This is yet another of BrooWaha’s great strengths.
Q: Where did the idea come from?
A: I got the idea while I was living in Atlanta, finishing my Masters at Georgia Tech. My apartment was right next to some of the hippest clubs in town and several celebrities were frequently spotted hanging out in them. Despite being so close to the heart of the action, I felt very disconnected from what was going on in the city. It would have been interesting to know what went on in the clubs as well as other parts of Atlanta nightlife. And then I wondered where I could find this kind of information. That’s how I came up with the idea of BrooWaha and how I started sleeping less and less to work on the project.
Q: You could have gone to the clubs — the fact that you didn’t proves you’re a real journalist. Or, are you the next Arianna Huffington?
A: As I understand it, her blog is very politically oriented and she relies on big names and heavy-hitters. Firstly, BrooWaha is not a blog, it’s a newspaper, meaning that we publish articles on a variety of different topics and, as stated above, by many different authors. Secondly, a distinction can be made between the people she recruits to write on her blog and the all-access platform that we have on BrooWaha. Lastly, unlike Ariana Huffington, I do not plan to run for governor However, if famous people want to write on BrooWaha, herself included, we will not turn them away!
Q: If people essentially “vote” for articles, is this really a social networking site for the blogger-set?
A: Social networking is not one of the main goals of BrooWaha and I took particular care when designing the website to keep it from becoming another vain attempt at reproducing what MySpace is today. If people want to use BrooWaha to meet bloggers, journalists, writers, etc, in addition to interacting with the site as a newspaper, more power to them. However, I don’t think it will ever be primarily a social networking site. People will go to BrooWaha to read news articles and learn about Los Angeles and the world. BrooWaha is also a great tool for people to practice their writing and get feedback
on it from other authors and readers. Finally it is a great platform to share ideas, discuss news, and possibly also make friends, enemies, and rethink journalism for the better.