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Brad Flora
Windy Citizen
Chicago, IL

windycitizen @ gmail.com
Chicago, IL

Photo Linked From: http://www.mediagiraffe.org/wiki/images/6/65/Download.jpg

Local site for Chicago, with content created by users

Written for the MGP by Jason Goldstein at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, May 2009
About a year ago, when Brad Flora was finishing his graduate degree at Northwestern, he became fascinated by the local sites that were popping up. The Chicago blogosphere was filled with local politics, food, sports, and music. Some of the writers were publishing for fun, some were trying to make a living. Many weren't trained journalists, and their writing had what Flora called an "edge to it."

But while the Internet enables anyone to start a blog and publish content, it's more difficult to find readers and build an audience. Flora sought to create a new outlet to give the local writers "a way to have a fighting chance."

He knew enough about web design and programming that he thought he could put something together. While the project turned out to be a little more daunting than he expected, WindyCitizen.com went live in late December 2008.

Windy Citizen is a social news site where users share, vote up, and discuss content, similar to Digg and Reddit. The difference is Windy Citizen focuses exclusively on local material.

"We quickly became the best friend of every local blogger in Chicago," Flora said.

As the site explains: "When was the last time you saw a story about David Schwimmer (or the CTA) on Digg? That's what I thought."

According to Flora, Windy Citizen boasts 1100 users, all from Chicago, and traffic has been growing about 10 percent per month.

"The site is the users," Flora said. His job is to "keep the lights on" and promote the project.

Windy Citizen has been Flora's fulltime job for the past year, and he recently hired an ad sales representative. For the moment, he says the ad revenue covers his rent and ramen noodle bill.

Flora said he knew of a few other projects like his, some of which picked up the idea from Windy Citizen. But he had yet to see anyone else really focus on getting something off the ground.

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Follow Flora on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bradflora

Flora's bio on Windy Citizen:

Brad Flora is CEO of WindyCitizen.com, a web service that lets people share their favorite Chicago news and events with their friends and neighbors. He is a Chicago-based journalist and web developer who has written for Slate Magazine, the Carnegie Corporation and seveal Chicago-area publications. Prior to founding Windy Citizen, he edited the Chicago Methods Reporter, a web site that won no awards but helped a lot of people score jobs. He lives in Old Town with an ever-rotating cast of characters discovered on Craigslist.