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Thumbnail image for katie.jpgWhether we like it or not, hyperlocal news websites are here, invading our coverage areas and hiring away our experienced co-workers. (By "our," I'm referring to traditional print media outlets, including The Courier-News and the Chicago Sun Times.)

And, further cementing their place in the news-purveying industry is recent movement by the Illinois Press Association to create a membership category for the hyperlocal dot-coms.

bocatwitterprofile.pngpatch.jpgFor those of you who are not media insiders, currently news websites like Patch (recently sprouted in Geneva, St. Charles and, yesterday, in Naperville) and Elgin's BocaJump float in a sort of limbo. They function as sort of mini newspapers with an online presence only. They report local happenings, publish police reports and cover some local government. They hire people with journalism degrees and sell ads, too.

The creators of these types of news websites say their pages will serve up community journalism with a heavy focus on feature stories and submitted content. Some claim to be "complementary rather than competition," when it comes to traditional print media. Others flat out seek to oust the journalists already in town.

What's the debate? What does this mean? After the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgYou know the summer road construction is getting ridiculous when the DETOUR GETS DETOURED.

That's what's happened in Bartlett: Traffic has been detoured to Illinois Route 59 during construction on Dunham Road. But Route 59 will close Monday, Aug. 9, as staff writer Dave Gathman reported in today's story "Bad Timing: Route 59 to close before Dunham reopens."

But don't worry: Our Web team is here to help. They've put together a Google map of the construction zone you can use to plot your own detours:

View Bad timing for Elgin-Bartlett commuters in a larger map

Share your traffic horror stories here. And get more news on construction, closures, commuting and more on Sun-Times Media West's "On the Move" blog!

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgNOTE: Got questions about journalism? We promised you we'd answer them. Now we're back from the Memorial Day holiday, and we're ready for more! Here's the next Q and A...

"What's the Courier doing to embrace this change?" -- frankwolfton, via blog comment

Ask and ye shall receive.

You asked if we still thought it was a good idea for young people to get into newspapers. We answered: YES! The fact that people need newspapers hasn't changed. What has and likely will is the way people read those newspapers, thanks to something you may have heard of called "the Interwebs."

To which, you asked, well, what is The Courier-News doing about that?

Oh, I'm so glad you asked. As your Readers' Reporter, I'm the fingers behind the keyboard, if you will. The Courier's resident geek. The one coming up with hackneyed ideas for Facebook and Twitter pages and blogs and hacking out most of the posts for all of the above. And I could talk about this all day.

Let's start with the big one...

Social media. One of the things the Internet has changed about the way you read the news is it's become a social experience. According to Pew Internet, 59 percent of Americans get their news from a combination of online and offline sources. Of those, 75 percent get that news via e-mail or social networks, and 52 percent will pass it on through those means.

Since social media is where you're getting your news, social media is where we're putting it. We have three Twitter accounts: @courierrss (headlines from our RSS feeds), @courierfbscores (sports) and @couriernews (breaking news and interaction with yours truly). I've also made Twitter Lists for each of the communities we cover and each of the regular sections in The Courier-News. We have a Facebook fan page. We even did the MySpace thing for a while... but seriously. Does anybody even use MySpace anymore?! (If I'm wrong, and that's important to you -- let me know. I'll start updating our profile again.)

And we've made it easy for you to pass it on through e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc., with a "Share/Bookmark" link at the top of each article on The Courier-News website (and the bottom of every blog post).

E-mail, smartphones and this here blog, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpg"We all have those memories."

That's what Rene Hernandez told me. Hernandez is event director for the former Santa's Village property at routes 25 and 72 in East Dundee.

santasvillage.jpgHe shared his memories of the theme park, which closed in 2006, in Monday's centerpiece, "More than Memories" (which, incidentally, also ran in our sister paper -- or is it mothership? -- the Chicago Sun-Times with the title "Santa's Village 'kind of reopening things'"). So did Charles Black of Impact Business Solutions Inc., which also helps plan events on the property. And shoppers at the Santa's Village Flea Market last weekend. AND... well... you.

Here are two of the absolute funniest memories of Santa's Village you shared with me on Facebook and Twitter...

Melissa_Owens: My brother screaming in mortal fear to get off the Salt & Pepper Shaker while riding w/me--I loved it. posted Monday from Chicago Metro via Twitter

Melissa_Owens: Also, hitting a bumper car driven by an older woman & her g-daughter - woman's wig fell off & was run over. posted Monday from Chicago Metro via Twitter

More of your Santa's Village memories, plus photos, video and your Readers' Reporter's (albeit vague) memories of the theme park, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgIs Between the Bylines "how it's done?"

annatarkov.jpgChicago journalist Anna Tarkov seems to think so. Earlier this month, Tarkov said The Courier-News' new blog is "how it's done" and "all news organizations should have something similar set up" on her Posterous blog.

That's another awfully nice compliment for Between the Bylines. And, hey, I like a compliment as much as the next girl.

But the most important thing is what YOU, our readers, think of the blog. Are these the sorts of things you want to read about? Are you getting the "view of the journalist's struggle" and "Danahey's humor" you asked for? We're open to changing course or trying new things, too.

Let us know what you want to read... Between the Bylines.

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

Thumbnail image for katie.jpgAfter reading over our page two story "W. Dundee brawl still under investigation" yesterday afternoon before it went to print, I closed my word processing screen and opened up my Internet browser to Twitter. Had any news broken since my last peek at the micro-blog?

To my delight, Courier-News Community News Editor Julia Doyle just had posted a snarky comment: "Trying to get a screenshot of video of a local bar fight that's on YouTube. I wonder if this is what it's like to work on Springer?"

springer.jpgI chuckled after reading the post and immediately clicked "Retweet" so I could broadcast the comment to all of my Twitter friends and followers.

Then, about 20 seconds later, I panicked and hit the "undo" button.

What if other journalists at competitor newspapers read my re-broadcast of Julia's tweet? What if @DHinsider or @MySuburbanLife got wind of our story before it broke in today's paper?

More on how we decide what to tweet -- and when, after the jump.

Like what you see?

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Thumbnail image for emily.jpg...If not, let's change it. After all, this blog is all about you and what you want from The Courier-News.

Already, you suggested and voted on the name for Between the Bylines.

Thumbnail image for bethebyoriginal.jpgBut take that tag line: "Join the conversation on the news behind The Courier-News." That's something we came up with. Not doing it for you? We can change that.

And our logo (at right).

Sun-Times Media West designer Nick Escobar is working on a logo for Between the Bylines. And, well, one of our reporters suggested the pen tip clip art in his first draft looks more like a corset.

Granted, in our previous post, several readers suggested The Courier-News reporting team could be a little "edgier" on the blog. So maybe you like that.

But we've got a few more logo options we'd like your thoughts on, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgI take it, since you're reading this, you heard from Twitter, Facebook or the print or online editions of The Courier-News your hometown newspaper's Between the Bylines blog officially launches today.

Well, here it is!

Reader Jessica Thompson shared her thoughts about newspapers blogging in today's Readers' Reporter column, "Whaddya want from The Courier-News blog?," even turning the tables to ask, "So what is this blog about?"

The answer...?

(Excuse the poor sound quality, the "ums" and "likes" and the background noise. This was a pretty informal conversation over lunch at Al's Cafe & Creamery in Elgin.)


Hear more audio clips of my conversation with Jessica Thompson, read other readers' ideas and leave yours after the jump.

Thumbnail image for emily.jpgGot questions about the city of Elgin?

You can cut out the middle man (Isn't that what the Internet is for?) and ask Mayor Ed Schock yourself.

Mayor Schock once again will host a live online chat from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 22, following his "State of the City" address. At that time, you can join on the city's Web site,

  • Click on "Live Chat with Mayor Schock."

  • Sign in as a guest, and you will be redirected to the special Webcast.

  • Watch the mayor speak, then type in questions, and he will respond directly in the Webcast.

Would you rather ask your questions in person -- you know, the old-fashioned way? You can watch the chat live at the Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way, then ask Mayor Schock your questions afterward.

And be sure to report back to us with any interesting questions and answers!

-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter

katie.jpgAs part of our effort to become your 21st Century newsroom, The Courier-News debuted its first interactive map last month.

The Google Map was an effort on our part to connect with you, dear readers, and get some feedback to include in a Sunday Storyteller.

The article -- "Why Play Matters" -- addressed play in the Fox Valley. It focused on changes in the places kids play and the activities kids growing up in the Elgin area have played over time.

It ran, with some of your responses, in our print and online editions Sunday, April 11.

View Places to Play in a larger map

While you are always encouraged to connect with us via e-mail, phone, Facebook and Twitter, for this story we literally wanted you to show us where your favorite places to play were and mark them on a map we all could view and share.

We received six responses in our first attempt at sharing an interactive map with you. And it got more than 470 views. Not bad for a start!

We welcome your comments on how this experiment worked and would like to hear your suggestions for future use of interactive maps. Are there stories you think could be improved or expanded by including an interactive map? Is there something you'd like to encourage the community to plot together?

Let us know, and thanks for reading!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the social media category.

reporter's notebook is the previous category.

video is the next category.

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