PAULINE'S PICKS: Petaluma Newspaper Lets Locals Blog

By: Pauline Millard Petaluma, Calif. is just on the border of Marin County north of San Francisco. Even though it's a smallish town (about 55,000 people) there is plenty to cover. How does the local paper, the Argus-Courier, deal with all food, art and theater in the area? They look to bloggers.

Citizen journalism has taken a lot of hits lately, mostly because its critics question the quality an untrained journalist can offer. What these nay-sayers overlook, though, is that when people have a passion for something, say, wine, they can write about it with all the verve of an expert. You just have to give them a shot.

Enter the bloggers at It's the web version of the Argus-Courier. The paper invited residents to blog about what appeals to them, and it can be anything. For some, it's pop culture, another woman is writing about building a boat, complete with video footage. Another woman writes about how she balances her home life. Even the school superintedent has a blog where he writes about (what else?) education and kids.

Each blogger gets a little box with their picture in it, so their work is easily linked to who they are. And in a town like Petaluma, there's a good chance the readers might know them. What better incentive is there to make sure the blogs are of good quality?

Has your paper embraced citizen journalism? I'd love to hear about it, or any other Web innovations.

Here are a few of my past Picks:

South Carolina Papers Uses Web For Updates On Fallout From Fire Focuses On Video For Local Coverage

'The Dallas Morning News' Creates Original Videos for Local Stories

Statesman Journal' Uses Web to Tell World War II Internment Story


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