About 75 of the Boulder liberal faithful gathered in the home of Steve Pomerance and Allyn Feinberg in the shadow of Chautauqua Park Friday night, March 12, for a party to semi-formally launch The Blue Line, a new website that's all about collaborative information-sharing by people in the know.
The crowd kept growing to sardine-can coziness. Spotted in their midst were such Boulder liberal luminaries as Rollie and Josie Heath, Al Bartlett, Macon and Regina Cowles, Cindy Carlisle, Eric Lombardi, Spense Havlick, Ruth Blackmore and Alison Burchell -- I'm sure you get the picture.
At the helm of this ship from a design and layout standpoint is Liz Payton, who's not without some snappy web-publishing skills. The editorial team includes Pomerance, Susan Peterson, Pat Shanks (current chair of PLAN-Boulder County) and Mary Young. (See photos of organizers)
After an appropriately long schmoozefest, the evening's festivities got rolling. Pomerance and collaborators laid out their vision for The Blue Line. It's to be highly participatory, with great attention to making it easy for community members to contribute news articles, opinion pieces, comments and calendar items. Given the PLAN-Boulder County association of many of the organizers, a heavy emphasis on environmental and planning issues is likely.
Peterson told the group: "The next time we get together, I hope you don't know most of the people in the room. Because it seems like it's the same crowd, right? ... The purpose of The Blue Line, we hope, is to get together a broader group of people."
The website's primary goal, said Shanks, is "to involve and inform a much broader audience than seem to be getting informed at present."
The idea was born, he said, "when a group of us got together after the elections last fall and discussed how we could be more effective in reaching people." The solution, the group decided, was to try to enlist in-the-know people "to provide some meaty, substance-rich stories about things that are going on -- and, of course, some opinion." All authors and commenters will be required to reveal their true identities. Also in the cards will be online polling of readers on timely issues.
Added Pomerance: "How it would work optimally is that there are 100 to 150 people who are contributing ideas -- short pieces, long pieces -- and having a discussion."
"The site right now is sort of in a 'soft launch,'" said Peterson, "because we want to make sure it all works." A promotional effort, including advertising, Facebook and word of mouth, is slated for the end of April.
The plan is to be all-volunteer. One audience questioner suggested the editors should find money to pay professional journalists -- such as him. In informal conversations after the presentation, we heard some talk about raising money to fund investigative reporters.
Boulder Reporter has been supportive of the fledgling project with our coverage and with content-sharing. Hey, we're on this new-media frontier together. Is The Blue Line visionary? Will it survive and build a following? Like many variables on a turbulent media landscape, it's a tough one to call. Judging from the enthusiasm of Friday night's crowd, it looks promising.
This article appeared in slightly different form in The Boulder Reporter, which the author edits.