The website ArborUpdate.com, which I helped found in Summer 2004, has decided to shut down. The last post includes a number of interesting comments discussing the website’s history. I created the website, which operated as a non-hierarchical editorial collective, to discuss news and civic issues in Ann Arbor.
Since it was founded, personal blogging has proliferated and competing websites have appeared in the city. Most notably, after 174 years the city’s daily printed newspaper the Ann Arbor News shut down in June 2009. At its close, newspaper company launched AnnArbor.com, a blog-like website with comments and a small core of full-time writers.
I think there’s a lot to learn from this case. One of the most important lessons is something Lisa Williams (of Placeblogger.com) mentioned to me during a conversation we had last fall. She said longevity alone isn’t necessarily a good measure for success of online citizen journalism projects. Given changes in the internet and broader media landscape in Ann Arbor, it seems right to shut down the site. I trust the community members will work to ensure what it achieved will continue somewhere online: a source for information about local issues and a venue for (mostly) civil discussion.
I posted a wrap up here
The notable piece for me was that the blogs on the Arbor Update blogroll that used to be regularly linked to and fro had mostly stopped posting or slowed down a lot for a variety of reasons – people leaving town, people getting jobs where it was impolitic to post, people getting jobs where they were writing elsewhere.
Someone (I’m not sure who, but I have my suspicions) referred to Arbor Update as a “bulky, herbivorous collective”; add non-hierarchical to that and I think you are pretty much complete. It was an impressive run.
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