Paving a two-way street

As we forge a new path online, we’re hoping readers will help make it a two-way information thoroughfare.

We’re now three weeks into this experiment called Bridgeland News. Over that time, we’ve been tinkering with several new content models: community blogs, a new photo gallery format, crime alerts, and additional news sections like Schools and City Beat.

But we’ve also been experimenting with new ways to reach out and respond to you, our readers. Our Facebook page keeps fans (157 strong as of this writing) updated on how the site is developing over time. I try to post a few updates to Twitter each week (although I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been a little remiss in this – I’ve love to hear what you think about Twitter as a communication tool). And we’ll be sending our email newsletter, The Bridgeland Current, to nearly 1,000 subscribers this week (Haven’t registered yet? It’s free – just register at the top of this page.)

A driving goal in all of this is to make the news source a two-way street. I’ve been buoyed by the comments we’ve received on Facebook, by the followers we’ve garnered on Twitter, and by the many emails we’ve received over the last few weeks that have shared readers’ praise, concerns, and ideas for improving the site. Thanks to all who’ve taken the time to send us your thoughts.

But perhaps the most telling sign for us that a two-way relationship is being paved is the increase in comments to stories on the website since the move online. It tells us that you’re not only visiting the site and reading articles, but that the news we’re providing is spurring you to share your own views.

Here are just a few examples of comments posted in the past couple of weeks:

One reader responded to our story about the arrest of a burglar with a history of preying on his Marcy neighbors:

“Here’s a novel idea for Minneapolis law enforcement: LOCK UP THIS PARASITE!”

Our review of the options and issues involved in the planned makeover for the intersection at Franklin Avenue and East River Parkway sparked a short conversation on the value of adding roundabouts there, and both writers noted their thanks for the links to related information and documents:

“Thank you for the article on the options under consideration for the Franklin / East River Parkway intersection. Providing the link to the presentation and engineering firm’s website is already proving the value of your online publication!”

And our publication of John DeWitt’s essay on the demise of the streetcar system inspired a long missive connecting the dots between past, current and future transportation issues.

Over the summer, we’ll try to add a comments feed to the front page, so that it’s easier to find out what your neighbors are commenting on and to add your voice to a conversation.

Don’t feel like commenting? There are other ways to get involved. If you snap some great photos of a Bridgeland happening, send us a link to your online album. Let us know when you see something happening in your neighborhood that you think we should look into. And keep sharing your ideas about the site itself – what you like, what you don’t. The Inbox, which appears on the home page and most article pages, provides the links you need for getting in touch and involved.

And finally, if you want to see this venture succeed and thrive, please let our wonderful advertisers know that you saw them on Bridgeland News. Just like engaged neighbors and a reliable and responsive news source, local businesses are one of the keystones to a vibrant, stable community. Let them know you value them and their presence on the site – think of it as another two-way street you can help pave to keep the Bridgeland community strong.

last revised: June 30, 2009