I think it's time for a shout out to Santa Cruz Patch.com, the AOL-sponsored online news site that seems to be hitting its stride.
My initial reaction to the hyper-local website was one of disappointment for the first few months, notably because there seemed to be little effort at editorial guidance. In other words, a high-school junior varsity tennis match seemed to carry equal weight on the site with a major development at city hall. Yeah, sure, I'm a hard-news snob, but still -- the reader does need at least a little guidance from editors regarding what's important.
Now, under the direction of editor Brad Kava, the Santa Cruz site seems to be finding its legs. A mix of staff-written and citizen-journalist stories, Patch is providing a pretty good cross-section of stories.
A recent story that I read all the way through (yes, that's 'a big deal in an ADD world), was a story by Aracelly Clouse about some new and different businesses that have opened in downtown Santa Cruz -- everything from the Bike Dojo to Nut Kreations. Patch also is doing a good job of covering the nuts and bolts around town -- like its coverage of New Leaf Market's fund-raising day for the National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center.
The story is noteworthy because it goes against a journalistic tradition: reporting on what's wrong. Business coverage traditionally focuses on the businesses that are failing, or laying off people. What's forgotten is that even a local economy like Santa Cruz is always changing, and that new businesses rise up to take the place of fading ones. (Hey -- I know about this one. I'm writing these words at the Cruzio co-working space in the old Sentinel building. You know that building, where I worked for 35 years before they shut it down and sold it).
Patch is offering an alternative to the traditional news site. As it adds more features and more blogs (including a very good one by Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Don Lane), Patch just might make some inroads into the local media world, now dominated by the Sentinel, Good Times and Santa Cruz Weekly.
Competition in news coverage is always a good thing. A reporter worried about getting beat on a story is usually a better, more aggressive reporter.