Happy Birthday to You!

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 54 views 

We re-started this thing called The City Wire a year ago Nov. 3.

By way of reminder, let’s revisit a few points from the simple vision we expressed almost 12 months ago.

The City Wire is now set to deliver area news we hope you will find distinct and refreshing from other sources of information.

• As The City Wire matures, our contributors will bring their perspective on business, society, events and other happenings from around the area. They also will report on issues and events from outside the area that have a direct impact on our lives in the Fort Smith region.
• Please feel free to review businesses, restaurants, and other organizations on the site. Start your blog or add your existing blog; list something for sale in the classifieds section; comment on articles and practically anything published on
The City Wire.

• The Internet is about two-way communication, not one-way, take-it-or-leave-it information and news. We welcome your opinions and participation in Our Community, Online.

Not only are our goals short and sweet, but they revolve around you and your interaction. It really is about you being part of the process. We’re not here to connect with the community, we’re here to connect the community.

Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have selfish, capitalist goals that include having a profit motive. Because we dang sure do have a goal of eventually turning dimes into dollars and dollars into jobs and salaries and success and repeat. However, we are convinced a convergence exists between our community goals with The City Wire and our capitalist goals with The City Wire. So far, so good.

Traffic to The City Wire has impressed even us. We’ve had just short of 115,000 visitors tour the place. And while our traffic numbers are beyond our expectations, please know we are more interested in quality than quantity.

Which is to say, our vision does not require us to be the be-all-end-all Web publication for the area. Which is to say, we don’t give two flips about covering car wrecks, house fires, redneck stabbings or convenience store robberies. It won’t matter in 5 years or 10 years or 15 years that there was a 3-car crash-up on the interstate just a few miles from where some fella stole $1,582.13 and a carton of cigarettes from a convenience store. It will matter what happens between local governments. It will matter how wise and aggressive is our economic development leadership. It will matter what is happening to the dynamics of our regional economy. It will matter what our social service agencies and arts communities are doing to enhance their offerings.

You should also know that we seek to reach a narrow demographic in terms of income, education and interest. Sure, the movers and shakers in a region are often from higher income and education brackets, but we have a fair number of fair folks with a fair and honest passion for community improvement irrespective of demographic position. Which is to say, we work hard each day to provide high-quality community reporting to people who move, shake, do and care. So far, so good.

And this reporting we do is reporting we do. There is an emerging fallacy that all these community blogs popping up are nothing more than a bunch of folks who steal stories and photos from traditional media (newspapers, usually) and repackage them on their little blogs. This fallacy is typically propagated by those employed by traditional media, and they use the word “community blogs” with almost the same inflection one might use with “child molester.” Which is to say, when your business model is busted, it’s easier to blame others for your problems.

While many Web sites indeed rehash content generated elsewhere, a growing number of Web sites produce unique and newsy content. And many of those Web sites deliver their unique content with a passion and edge the traditional lords of the Fourth Estate won’t — or don’t know how to — touch.

It’s taken almost a year for many in the area to accept the legitimacy of The City Wire. And that’s OK. That’s how things work in the Fort Smith area. We take some time to welcome new things. And that’s not always a bad trait.

But here we are. And each week, if not each day, The City Wire brings to you important stories about the immediate world around you that other media outlets will not have or will not have until the next day. Such stories number in the hundreds (if not thousands), and include stories about the ups and downs of Whirlpool employment, Interstate 49, Sparks Health System, redevelopment of Phoenix Village Mall, Fort Smith Convention Center funding shortfall, violation of campaign laws and stories about your thoughts on key issues and events. So far, so good.

We do have a few holes in our effort. Two of those are inadequate coverage of Van Buren/Crawford County and not enough information about arts and entertainment in the region. We’re actively working to fix those holes, and are confident you will see improvements within the next 60 days.

We’d like to take credit for our first year of success, but that would be as wrong as saying The City Wire is “just one man and a blog.” The City Wire behind the scenes is a collection of about 15 people, including technical support folks at Kirkham Systems and a great network of freelance writers and photographers.

More importantly, The City Wire is you. Seriously. The City Wire is you. The success of our first year has come from the thousands of visitors who log in daily, from the thousands of active commenters and from a growing base of advertisers who see The City Wire as a great platform to reach area business and civic decision makers.

Almost a year ago, we hoped hard work and your interaction would allow The City Wire to be “Our Community, Online.”

So far, so good.