Noted citizen journalism advocate Dan Gillmor announced yesterday the merger of his Bayosphere citizen's media site with Reston, Virginia-based hyperlocal citizen's media website Backfence.com. On Bayosphere and on his new Backfence blog , Gillmor explained the benefits of the merger to the Bayosphere community:
I'm happy that this means the small community we’ve nurtured here has a chance to grow and mature. (There's also some small financial relief for me, as I’ve been covering Bayosphere’s costs for months now.) One of the obvious options was to simply shut it down. We never wanted to do that. But it wouldn't have made sense to keep it going indefinitely, either, without some clearer purpose and direction.
There will be changes, major ones. Backfence is all about local, not global, serving needs that many of us believe has been underserved by traditional media -- for entirely sound business reasons. Take a look around the Backfence sites [link], and you'll see how their tools focus people in a relatively small geographical area on helping each other know what's going on.
Gillmor will contine at Bayosphere:
I'm going to keep blogging here. The Bay Area has been my home for more than a decade. I'll be aiming my own postings on the technology economy and other facets of our lives here, such as housing and traffic, and hope to keep our conversations, which have sometimes been downright enlightening, as lively as they've been in the past.
Backfence will soon begin efforts to establish citizen journalism sites throughout the Bay Area, the first for Palo Alto, CA. Backfence CEO Susan DeFife explains the Palo Alto decision:
[Palo Alto] "is the linchpin of Silicon Valley. Its broad collection of community organizations, strong business and commercial base, high Internet penetration and its population base are the kinds of things we look for in deciding where Backfence should open local sites. We’re looking forward to becoming an important part of the Palo Alto community and then launching additional sites in Bay Area communities over the next few months.”
Gillmor was recently profiled in Vermont web alternative weekly Seven Days