When the Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board met last Thursday night and bucked public opinion to recommend making Horseshoe Farm Park into an active community park rather than a nature preserve, Indy reporter Bob Geary was there. And he wrote about it the next day--but not for the newspaper, which wouldn't come out for another five days. He wrote about it on his new Indy blog, Citizen (www.indyweekblogs.com/citizen), and broke the story. The News & Observer didn't write about it until three days later.
Citizen is the latest evolution of the Independent Weekly's presence on the Web. It's also at the top of our home page, www.indyweek.com, where it's updated every time Geary writes an entry. It is named after his column in the newspaper (see page 17 for his latest thoughts on Horseshoe Farm Park), which provides (we humbly think) the city's best insight and inside information on Raleigh politics.
Geary's presence at that meeting is one of the things that will set Citizen apart from other blogs: It will often involve reporting news rather than offering only commentary and links to other people's work. We don't pretend to be able to compete against the dailies on everything that happens. But on the issues most important to the city and our readers (like the debate over Horseshoe Farm Park, which we've been covering for months, or downtown redevelopment and suburban sprawl, or a former Raleigh activist's report from Lebanon), we expect the insight Geary has gained from 20 years living, working and participating in Raleigh to give online readers an honest and knowledgeable picture of what's happening.
Geary is a journalist with 15 years' experience but also has worked in politics, PR and video production. He considers himself not just a journalist, but an "active citizen"--listening, interviewing, reporting accurately but also offering his own perspective as "a member of the community who cares what happens."
And he wants other members of the community to play the same role, commenting on his blog topics, which will be varied.
"It's eclectic," he says. "It's a reflection of what people tell me. I do think blogs are a chance for people to get the news out that they know about--whatever has people riled up or, on the other hand, whatever has them clapping in the aisles. I'm looking for signs of life, of thoughtfulness, of progress in Raleigh. Of progressive thinking."
To get in on the discussion, check out Citizen or e-mail Geary at firstname.lastname@example.org.