Northwest Citizen has a Front Page

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Fri, Jan 29, 2010, 3:42 am  //  John Servais

Two years ago, Jan 2008, this website changed from hand coded pages into a database driven one. In one move we added several writers and enabled commenting by anyone who wanted to (so long as they used their real name.) I had an idea how the site should develop, but wanted to do it in careful stages. Start simple and see what was needed next.

Back in 1995, I started this site as a method for bringing local political and planning issues to public notice. Issues the Bellingham Herald covered up or ignored. At the time, I thought others would soon also have websites that reached out to anyone with an Internet connection - maybe 20% of the people back then. It was 4 more years before the word "blog" was coined. It was about 8 years before anyone else started a similar site in this area.

To me, in 1995, a reverse chronological page of personal observations seemed like an obvious way to do this - and the Internet seemed an obvious way for us to all communicate more. Back in those days, Tip Johnson helped me with guest articles and - as importantly - was a person I could discuss ideas with on how to use the Internet. We used NwCitizen to good result from 1997 to 2000 in stopping Western Washington University from expanding into 17 city blocks of the Happy Valley neighborhood. Tip suggested Western look to the waterfront. They laughed at him. My, my - how time does reveal things.

Well, two years after moving to a database, we have tonight installed a front page. The purpose is to help readers learn more about current issues. The Issue boxes can give 30 words about an issue and list a half dozen articles worth reading. You see, sometimes an article written 6 months ago is still relevant and informative. With print publications, these get lost because we recycle the newspaper. Sadly the online version of many newspapers hide articles behind a firewall after a week and charge good money to see them. Seems very dumb to me because the expense of keeping old articles online is pennies.

Also, we will now feature a lead story in a large box at the page top. This allows us to make sure you don't miss some outstanding article by one of our citizen journalists.  I thank Tip for insisting over the past few months a front page was the next needed step.

On the left side is the beginning of an index to columnists. For the past few months, Ham Hayes has been writing a Wednesday morning column. I will be starting one every Monday morning. Eventually, we hope to add more columnists for other days. And Deb Gaber will edit all our columns and articles, as she has for months now, making us all look like better writers than we are. But these new design elements will take a couple weeks for us to get used to and using correctly. Right now their contents are a bit rough. Give us some time.

I want to thank John Meloy, our programmer, for coding the site two years ago and for today's front page.  He is an outstanding local web designer and he contributed some of his time and reduced his rate for this work as a contribution to our community discussion.  

I hope these format changes will lead to a better website. We are still inventing how we communicate online. I had a correct vision 15 years ago - and I have a vision now. Time will tell if the new vision works. 

Tip Johnson  //  Sat, Jan 30, 2010, 12:59 pm

And it is a volunteer effort!  Good job everyone.

Citizen journalists and opinion writers will become a more and more valuable source of public information as traditional media struggle with their bottom lines and corporate directions.

Exploring and evolving useful and reliable frameworks for citizen information may be crucial to our continuing experiment with democracy.

Nice work on the front page.  I like it and hope it will encourage more people to get involved and contribute.

Northwest Citizen has a Front Page

Fri, Jan 29, 2010, 3:42 am  //  John Servais

NwCitizen adds new design elements to its home page. The publisher explains what and why.

1 comments; last on Jan 30, 2010

The Way I See It - Death by Secrecy

Wed, Jan 27, 2010, 6:59 am  //  Ham Hayes

Issues are no longer relevant when secrecy is the name of the game.

1 comments; last on Jan 27, 2010

The Lummi Blockade

Sat, Jan 23, 2010, 8:15 pm  //  Tip Johnson

The Lummi Nation appears prepared to implement a threatened blockade of Lummi Island commencing February 14th

1 comments; last on Jan 24, 2010

The Way I See It - Upheaval!

Wed, Jan 20, 2010, 7:00 am  //  Ham Hayes

The earthquake in Haiti is a new reminder that we must also be prepared.


Racism and Western’s Late College of Ethnic Studies

Mon, Jan 18, 2010, 7:00 am  //  Kamalla Rose Kaur

Profiles WWU's College of Ethnic Studies and racism during the 60s

2 comments; last on Jan 19, 2010

Political Ethics

Sat, Jan 16, 2010, 7:00 am  //  Craig Mayberry

Contrasts business ethics and political ethics

4 comments; last on Jan 18, 2010

The Way I See It - Don’t Eat That!

Wed, Jan 13, 2010, 6:59 am  //  Ham Hayes

What will New York's proposed salt reduction laws do for us?


City working to buy Chuckanut Ridge

Mon, Jan 11, 2010, 6:21 pm  //  John Servais

Bellingham council and mayor are working to buy the 80 acres of Chuckanut Ridge development for a bargain price. Washington Federal does not want the land.

1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2010

Hippie Jim’s Peace Prize

Sun, Jan 10, 2010, 7:00 am  //  Kamalla Rose Kaur

Local concert celebrates Pete Seeger's 90th birthday--and the efforts of one man to see him awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

2 comments; last on Jan 12, 2010

Horizon Bank closed by FDIC

Fri, Jan 08, 2010, 9:02 pm  //  John Servais

Fate of proposed Chuckanut Ridge development continues to be a concern.

2 comments; last on Jan 09, 2010

The Way I See It - Flying Blind

Wed, Jan 06, 2010, 6:59 am  //  Ham Hayes

The screening of several million airline passengers a day is a huge task--and not being very well done.

2 comments; last on Jan 09, 2010

Sport of Bellingham

Tue, Jan 05, 2010, 1:17 am  //  Tip Johnson

Port of Bellingham in the news



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