Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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October 1, 2012

New 'Goshen Commons' website features young writers

GOSHEN — The citizen journalist is a growing trend in the world.

From live updates of citizens who lived in the Middle East during the Arab Spring riots of last year to CNN’s iReport online blogging from tech-savvy users, much of today’s global news starts when someone from a location, not a journalist, sits down to write about what’s going on in their neighborhood.

Goshen now has a similar online outlet in the form of Goshen Commons, a website for community journalism tended to by the staff and students of Goshen College’s Communications Department.

Duane Stoltzfus, chair of the Goshen College Communications Department and executive director of Goshen Commons, said the goal is to provide a complimentary service to the news organizations that already serve the area.

“It’s a work in progress,” Stoltzfus said of the website. “Consider it an experiment in journalism.”

The website went live Sept. 20, and it already has content updated daily. Stoltzfus invited the community to participate by way of blogging; 20 bloggers already write for the site, and Stoltzfus said the editorial board is looking for more voices to make the content diverse and representative of Goshen.

“We’re looking to expand our ranks of bloggers,” he said. “We’re hoping for a representative line-up.”

Stoltzfus highlighted some blogs that can be found through the website. Blog entries from the likes of Ann Carboneau, who writes “Well Said” about her times as a teacher at Goshen Middle School, or librarian Leah Schroeder, who writes “Bedtime Stories” about her life as a single mother, can be found on the site. Also look at John Yoder’s posts about bicycling or Rachel Smucker’s “Nifty Thrifty” about style on a budget, he said.

“The blogs will be fresh content,” Stoltzfus said. “We hope people will be coming to the site daily, and there will be at least three new blogs a day.”

The content now is strictly online, but Stoltzfus and the editorial board are open for suggestions. He said the possibilities are wide-open, from meet and greets with bloggers to whatever suggestions readers may come up with. He said feedback from readers is encouraged, whether through the “contact” form on their site or comments on posts.

“We will see what happens,” he said.

The current managing editor is Kaeli Evans, a senior Public Relations major at Goshen College in the Communications Department. Evans said Stoltzfus asked her to be involved this past spring, and they, along with a few others, met over the summer to hash out exactly what they wanted in the site.

“We hope to grow the audience,” she said. “We hope to become a place that people come to every day, whether it’s for the blogs or features.”

Features will regularly be provided by Goshen College students, Stoltzfus said, in addition to the blogs. While they won’t appear as regularly as the blog posts, the features will focus on Goshen, including using a series called “Goshen Portraits” to get intimate looks into the lives of interesting Goshen residents.

“All of the communication classes have students do writing,” Evans said. “I’m excited to publish some of these class stories, and it gives students real-world experience.”

Visit Goshen Commons at www.goshencommons.org, or through Facebook and Twitter.

On the web

Visit Goshen Commons at www.goshencommons.org, Facebook.com/GoshenCommons and Twitter @GoshenCommons.

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