Greater City Providence

Ocean State Blogging


Photo © Frank Mullin for PBN

Today in the Providence Business News, Ted Nesi reports about… us.

Ted interviewed me and people from Providence Daily Dose, RIFuture, and Anchor Rising for his story about Rhode Island bloggers and our relationship with mainstream media, which is hurting bad in this new new economy.

The big question is, can new media like us fill the gap left as traditional media cuts it’s size and tries to transfer from a dead trees to pixel based business model? My feeling is that us new media types need the traditional media to lead the way, then we can granulate the discussion.

Nickerson … thinks Providence, with its small size and creative population, is the perfect place for experimentation with new media models – including local online-only news outlets that pay reporters. “There needs to be a technological way to make that happen, and a design way and a creative way,” he said.

This question of what traditional media is going to look like in the future needs to be answered and needs to be answered quick before traditional media simply disappears. I truly do think the talent exists here to find the way forward and I’m glad Ted started the discussion.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Yes. We drive out to a place in western Cranston. All in separate cars so no one can trace the location.

  • Usually we’re naked and we cover each other in mud, but the photographer for some reason insisted we put on clothing.

  • Funny thing about this whole on paper vs. online question… I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the print version to see how the photos came out.

    They came out nice. 🙂

  • Now Jef, why didn’t you tell me that on the record? Talk about a good hook for a story: “Cult rituals unite urban planning bloggers”

  • Check out the New Haven Independent – it started as an online blog, but is now considered a serious newspaper. They have a large budget, some number of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are working to create a sister site called the “Valley Independent”, which just received a $500,000 grant to start up.

  • Follow us around with a telephoto lens. I can’t give it all away to you, gotta make you work.

  • Okay, first of all, New Haven, stop kicking our ass. Seriously, this is getting annoying.

    Now that that’s off my chest, I’ll calm down. I don’t know if this was on his mind or on my mind or both, but Jef and I talked bloggers v. newspapers after the Prov Foundation hoo-ha.

    For the last decade, I have been professionally required to watch this slow, horrible train-wreck called the newspaper industry. And Jef, because he’s professionally required to read what I write on his various outlets, knows how down I am on them and how I blame them for their own problems. He also knows how passionately I believe in the power of, for lack of a better term, citizen journalists.

    I point to Sacramento Press, a fairly new community-driven news source. Check out this story from yesterday that’s about a potential story to go cover. What’s the story? A workshop on how development will affect the “edge environment” characteristics of a particular neighborhood. Pretty arcane as far as newspapers go, but right up the alley of, say, an urban issues oriented blogger. Heck, s/he might have been going anyway.

    That meeting should be wrapping up by the time I get finished with this rant. Will anybody have covered it? I didn’t see anybody say they would…

    I checked out the NH Independent, and it’s part of an “online journalism project” designed to keep reporters working. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for reporters doing their thing. (Present company, especially.)

    But this is their main About page self-description:

    “A five-day-a-week report on news about the City of New Haven, Connecticut, produced by veteran local journalists, and by you.”

    And how do “you” contribute? By commenting or by donating to the non-profit. Or sending photos or tips. Okay, it’s more than nothing, but there could be so much more.

    The Indy’s Arts and Food sections – my sections – are not the strong part of the paper, given a brief once over. How many people could contribute awesome material? I bet DNH could list them by name. Why aren’t they part of the project?

    Because that’s how newspapers think. “We’re the journalists. You’re the consumers.”

    There isn’t even a community manager/moderator. I checked the comments where the editor and writer were called out for a provocative headline and, in typical newspaper style, they did not respond.

    It just wreaks of old-school newspaper people.

    So all of that is set up for this: I think Jef is right. We need the pro journos for a robust press. And we recognize that fact.

    They need us, too. For depth, for breadth, for perspective, for quirks, for dirt, for niches, for connection to the community. All of which lowers costs and increases adverti$ing.

    But they don’t recognize that fact. And it’s a real problem.

    I can see a greater Providence community news source centered around the Projo, or even the Phoenix for that matter, that includes a wide group of bloggers and other contributors. A combination of SacPress and NHIndy. Gawker has the contribution/payment thing worked out. It’s not that complicated.

    In my educated opinion, the reason this kind of thing hasn’t happened and won’t happen is that newspapers do not think highly enough of us to recognize that we are their only hope.

    I guess I didn’t calm down.


Providence, RI
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