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Tracy Record
Co-publisher, editor
West Seattle Blog
Seattle, WA

c/o A Drink of Water and A Story Interactive
2850 SW Yancy, #116
Seattle, WA 98126

24/7 Local Online News for West Seattle

This is an excerpt from a case study of the West Seattle Blog done by ReJurno, a blog by Jane Stevens that tracks new solutions for journalism. Jane Stevens is currently a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute; she's also a part of the RJI News Collaboratory. Information for the case study was gathered by Mark Poepsel. Scroll down to the Read More section for latest Media Giraffe news updates on the West Seattle Blog. Read the entire case study here.
- March 5, 2009.

West Seattle Blog Case Study:



Full-time paid: Two people
Tracy Record, editor, reporter
Patrick Sand, ad sales, business manager
Ironically, Patrick has the degree in journalism, and a background in radio. He's WSB's public facethe WSB rep for luncheons and functions. Tracy's domain is a mix of traditional journalist and community manager, i.e., she's a jurno. She's never met 90 percent of WSB's advertisers. She's worked in newspapers, radio, Web and TV for decades; she left her job as assistant news director at KCPQ-TV in December 2007 to work on WSB full time.

Part-time: One person (hiring soon)

Freelancers: Pay $50 - $75 to cover event. Three photographers do work in exchange for promoting business.

FOUNDED: January 2006, as a "regular old blog, talking about the neighborhood in general," says Patrick.

Participatory beat-blogging: As principle editor and reporter, Tracy Tracy takes a beat-blogging approach to covering West Seattle. This means continuous and updated original reporting of events and issues that incorporates information and comments from members of the community, rather than individual stand-alone stories.

The posts may be Tracy's reporting only, a combination of her reporting and information submitted by people in the community, or a short intro to information from a community member. If in doubt about their information, she finds another source (e.g., report of gunshots from a member of the community is checked by calling the police). Patrick estimates that 30 percent of WSB's content comes from the community, emailed in to Tracy or posted as a comment. Tracy calls the people who contribute to the site "collaborators".

On many nights, many events will need covering. For example on Jan. 13, five were scheduled: a meeting to "scope" a proposed West Seattle jail, a community meeting to discuss an elementary school closure, a neighborhood organization meeting about transit and parking, and meetings of two neighborhood associations. Patrick helps out, and Tracy and he will hire local freelancers or rely on students from the University of Washington Media Lab to cover an event. Occasionally, a community member will volunteer.


Personally financed by Patrick and Tracy, who was working as assistant news director at KCPQ-TV when they started the blog. She quit in December 2007. "We treat this like a start-up," says Patrick. "I come from a family of people who owned small businesses. My uncle owned a funeral parlor. My mom and pop, a drug store. We understand what we're up against."

Advertising-supported; able to support Tracy, Patrick and their 13-year-old son (who does some photography for the site). Currently, they have 40 advertisers.

WHAT THEY'D DO DIFFERENTLY: "I would NOT use "Blog" in the site name," says Tracy. "It has way too much baggage. I am very strident now about explaining to people, we do not run "a blog" and we are not "bloggers." We are publishing a site IN BLOG FORMAT, but we are not bloggers, our work is not "blogging," etc. We will need to change our name but there's a bit of a conundrum - it's a brand - it is known - so whenever that happens, it will have to be managed very carefully."

ADVICE FOR JURNOS WHO WANT TO DO THIS: Take your severance package, team up with someone who knows advertising, says Patrick. If you don't think your neighborhood's being served, step into that gap. "Get your ass out of the chair. We're making it because we have the shoe leather. You can't be afraid to go out and talk to people," he says.

When you decide upon a hosting service, don't worry about gigabytes per month "No one is going to read you on the first day," says Tracy. "Spend some time coming up with a good DOMAIN name and then make sure you can get it. In the meantime use Blogger, TypePad, or a free WordPress account until you build traction."


Read More

2008 YouTube video produced by Flip the Media, a storytelling class at the University of Washington (www.flipthemdia.com). A four minute quirky take on Tracy, her husband, and their son Torin; includes closeups on Tracy's office in the laundry room and their photogenic teal kitchen.

February 2, 2009. David Westphal posted a story on OJR covering how local news sites have been affected by the recession. The verdict (gathered word of mouth, through interviews) was that things look good so far. The article includes several candid quotes from Tracy Record:
"I WISH that the people throwing money around would share some with those of us who are bootstrapping, rather than yet ANOTHER aggregator, or sharing site, or whatever. THIS is where the action is happening and the future is being paved. But I can't get a Whatever Grant to so much as give me the time of day. Just not considered sexy enough to be busting your butt uncovering and/or sharing information and news in real-time re: your community.

December 26, 2008. This online interview with Tracy Record includes her advice for anyone thinking about trying to start their own hyperlocal.