I began the PG-Politics blog and Yahoo group and mailing list in July 2004, over eight years ago.
For over three years, the primary feature was the almost daily compilation of news links now titled "Recent Prince George's County News." Copies were posted to the PG-Politics blog and emailed and posted to the PG-Politics and PrinceGeorges_Discussion Yahoo groups and and the PG-Politics Google group. More recently, links to daily issues were posted to the @pgpolitics Twitter account.
For all of the three years, Twitter has been an important tool for compiling these summaries. Early on, RSS feeds for websites were equally important, but they have become less important as more and more sources, especially reporters, began using Twitter. As a result, the daily summaries changed from being primarily an aggregation of website links to an aggregation of Tweets, many of which are stand-alone brief news reports rather than simply links to web pages.
Over the past year, the number of reporters using Twitter effectively increased. The good news is that brief information about county news can be found in many more places than a couple of years ago. The bad news is that much of it is repetitive and the depth of coverage and amount of investigative reporting have not improved.
Although the number of sources I reviewed and linked to increased, overall readership of the blog and mailing lists declined and is now less than half of what it was just a year ago. The number of Twitter accounts following news items I retweet has grown, but most of that growth is outside what I consider to be my primary audience or target.
While alternative sources have increased and readership has declined, my eyesight and health have begun to slip and my travel schedule has increased.
So, where all this is heading, effective this weekend
- Cutting back the number of social media and RSS sources I check several times a day
- Reducing sharply the number of items I retweet about a specific event or news report. As in the past, I tend to give priority to items posted by reporters I follow over items posted by organization
- Reducing the priority of some topics I have been covering. I'll continue to gave a high priority to homicides, the records (voting and corruption) of elected officials, tax issues, and some business and development topics. I will be reducing attempts to cover education and municipal issues. Other people know more about education issues than I do. Municipal issues have proven hard to track because of spotty coverage by online news sources.
- Eliminating issuance of a
daily, structuredsummary of news items. As an alternative, I will offer an alternative, intermittently issued chronological summary to aid anyone trying to research non-current events. I will also have a running summary of the past few hundred items at http://pg-politics-briefs.com. Currently, that page seems to display properly with Internet Explorer and Google Chrome, but not with Mozilla Firefox, and fixing the Firefox feed is a low priority.
- Discontinuing my attempt to track local candidates in the 2012 elections. I will, however, forward messages to the mailing lists and consider posting information to the blog on request from a candidate or representative. I may consider tracking some specific issued in the 2013 and 2014 sessions of the General Assembly and all or some contested legislative and council races in 2014.
- Offering contributor or moderator access to volunteers who might be willing to provide supplement coverage or review of the topics I can no longer handle. I now have a few volunteers moderating the Yahoo mailing list and one helping with review of a limited number of Twitter feeds.
- Deleting some of my secondary, subject specific blog sites after merging posts with continued value into the main blog.