The return of the DGreport

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

A dozen years ago, I began looking for a way to provide more substantive local news coverage. I’d found traditional community news boring and superficial and, as a former reporter for national and metro newspapers, couldn’t understand why suburban readers weren’t served up the same meaningful coverage as their urban counterparts. I wanted to know more about the place we’d chosen as our home–more about its inner workings and the personalities that made it tick–and thought other Downers Grove residents might, too.

It seems almost quaint that my first big idea was to start an email news service. Eventually, the burgeoning blogosphere offered a more effective way to disseminate Downers Grove news. I launched DGreport.com in 2007 with few expectations and no marketing. I only knew there were far more local stories than I could ever hope to cover as a weekly Sun columnist, or saw in the pages of our local papers. I decided to take the WordPress blog platform for a spin.

It was a wild three-year ride before I shuttered the DGreport in 2010 to become the first local editor of Downers Grove Patch. For the next year, our community benefited from the healthy competition between newcomer Patch, a beefed-up TribLocal and the mainstay Reporter. But then things changed again.

Patch began cutting “fat” and quickly moved on to major organs. TribLocal virtually self-destructed after outsourcing its coverage to the content farm Journatic. And the Reporter increasingly shifted its focus to “evergreen” features before finding a new corporate master in Shaw Media.

So here we are again. There’s still too much about Downers Grove that is going unreported or under-reported. I believe some perspective is called for–the depth and understanding that come from living in a town for nearly two decades instead of merely passing through.

My goal isn’t to be everything to everyone. I see no reason to duplicate the efforts of Patch or the Reporter by posting police blotters or box scores.  My niche is the enterprise stories and informed commentary that other local news organization don’t have the time or inclination to pursue.

I relaunch the DGreport today with few expectations (and no marketing). The local and digital landscape has changed in the recent years and I’m not at all certain this site’s formerly robust readership will return. I’m game to give it another go, however, with a few tweaks and changes to the old format:

  • This isn’t my full-time job, but I’ll try to post Monday through Friday. Most of the time I’ll report or comment on a local issue but, considering we have a resident state senator/representative and a resident County Board member (and possibly two as of Nov.6), I also plan to post occasional state and county stories. And sometimes I’ll write about the cultural and national topics I enjoyed covering in my weekly Sun column. Even better, I’ll get some help from other local writers, including some former Patch contributors, who will bring their own interests, perspectives and expertise to the DGreport.
  • As always, your views are not only welcome, but encouraged. I’ve said it before (many times) and I’ll say it again: I don’t have a corner on the truth; my perspective isn’t the only one that counts. I think the best way for all of us to learn and grow is by hearing what others think, by entertaining the perspectives our neighbors bring to the table. Our town can only benefit from an open exchange of ideas.
  • Comments will be rigorously moderated. While real names are encouraged, they aren’t required. What is required: a valid email address, which will be confirmed before your first comment is allowed to appear on the site. I also will strictly require anonymous commenters to stick to a single alias. No multiple personalities allowed this time. And for those who prefer not to engage with anonymous commenters, links to all posts will appear on the DGreport‘s community Facebook page where they may be discussed by members of that social network.
  • Speaking of comments, last time around I bent over backward to accommodate all comers, including those whose only agenda was to tarnish the site and its legitimate contributors. I’m older, wiser and crankier now, and will no longer suffer fools, tools or trolls. It’s my sandbox and my rules. If you want your comments to see the light of day, make sure they adhere to the posted guidelines, period.

Finally, as social media and digital news have disrupted the old relationships between publishers and readers, and between government and the governed, the definition of “community” also is changing. One of the aspects of the DGreport I’ve missed most is the community within a community it represented. I’d like to recapture that, and to facilitate that community as an agent of positive change.

There are local organizations that look out for the interests of business, kids and seniors, that work for a specific category of change or represent the political views of various segments of the population. Yet, when it comes to the interests or concerns of average residents, we are mostly left to our own devices, whether as individuals or ad-hoc groups. As a result, the concerns of such residents or groups are too easily and often dismissed.

I believe if we join our voices for positive change, we can accomplish some good. And by good, I mean non-partisan, constructive and neighborly improvements to the life of our town.  This isn’t about seizing power, drawing lines between the insiders and the cast-outs, or exercising control over the local agenda. It’s about identifying issues–large and small–that matter to residents,  then building consensus and working together across political and social divides to achieve positive change.

I’ll have more to say about this developing concept–and to invite your ideas–as time goes on. And speaking of ideas, I’m always interested to hear yours. You can reach me at editor@dgreport.com, on Twitter @dgreporter or through the DGreport Facebook page.

Photo credit: Marcie Casas

 

 

 

7 Responses to “The return of the DGreport”
  1. Tony 17 October 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Welcome back Elaine! This old internet hasn’t been the same without you! Best of luck!

  2. Debbie Drews 17 October 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Welcome back, Elaine, and best of luck with your new endeavor! I promise to be behave or at least give it my best shot!! :-)

  3. Mark Thoman 17 October 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Welcome back!

  4. Kelly D 17 October 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    YEAH! Looking forward to your coverage!

  5. Sue Carroll 17 October 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Do you accept haiku submissions? I also have some poems about chili dogs. I will start sending them to you daily.

  6. Paul Cappetta 18 October 2012 at 5:39 am #

    Welcome back Elaine! I missed you.

  7. Elizabeth Major 18 October 2012 at 9:24 am #

    Love the older, wiser and crankier part…. Let me know if I can help out in any way – loved working with you on Patch!