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Northfield Patch Turns 2 Years Old!

I share a few thoughts—some new, most old—about Northfield Patch and being its editor for two years.

As I started eyeing Nov. 18 on the calendar a few weeks ago, I wondered what I could say that hasn't already been said.

Today, Northfield Patch turns 2 years old. 

In that time and the few months before that led up to the site's launch, I've had conversations with thousands of people (not an exaggeration) about Patch and what we're trying to do to help make our community just a little bit better.

I kept coming back to the post I wrote a year ago about Northfield Patch turning 1. As I read and reread it, everything written rings true today—if not more so. And, really, I don't know if I could approve upon it.

So, with the exception of a few updates in numbers (we've exceeded 900 blogs from nearly 100 community members now—awesome!), I present my thoughts that remain relatively unchanged from a year ago. The truth of the matter is I am privileged to be the editor of a Patch site in Northfield. 

That said, I promise to bring you some fresh thoughts when we turn 3. Enjoy!


Originally posted Nov. 18, 2011

Light the candle, Northfield Patch is 1 year old today.

Boy, does that feel good to type.

During the past few days, I've considered the best way to use this space to express my gratitude to you—the reader, the viewer, the user, the backbone.

You see, you don't just read news and information on this site. You don't just view our photos and videos. You don't just use this site by commenting, submitting blogs, photos or your own announcements and calendar items.

You, Northfield, are the backbone of Northfield Patch.

Since Patch launched in 2008 in New Jersey with three sites and expanded to more than 850 sites in the past few years, its mission has been to become part of the media ecosystem in the communities we join.

Northfield is rich in this respect and I'm proud to be part of the equation.

Aside from Patch, we have great resources in the Northfield NewsKYMN RadioNorthfield.org,Locally Grown Northfield, the Northfield Entertainment Guide, the League of Women Voters Northfield-Cannon FallsCarleton College and St. Olaf College. They all have much to offer and you're missing out if you're not stumbling across them at least once in awhile.

But Patch's hope is to make that stumbling just a bit easier.

On our site, you'll find original reporting, photos and videos from folks at Patch. You'll also find aggregated reports and links sending you to other websites writing about Northfield and its people, issues and accomplishments. The reality is that despite how large one's staff is, you will not get to everything. It's impossible.

That's why on Northfield Patch you also find submitted photos, videos, announcements, calendar items and blogs.

Our blog section—known as Local Voices—has really taken off. More than 30 people have written nearly 200 blogs about, among other things, politics, recipes, events around town and the recent dedication of Carleton's second wind turbine. Some submissions are silly, while others address serious issues. No matter how small or big, those words carry weight and they're yours. They matter. Northfield Patch simply provides a platform for folks to share what's on their mind. The best part? There's a large built-in audience on Patch that happens to be the very same folks these people see every day walking down Division Street.

There's a reason why people have taken to it. They have a voice and they want it heard. Media is no longer about one organization distributing information on the web, in a paper, or over the airwaves, saying, "here's what you need to know today." It's the very reason why social media sites top the most visited websites and people of all ages frequent Facebook—they have something to say. And that's why you can find us on Facebook and Twitter. It's a way to get to you, but it's also a way for you to get to us.

Media is now a two-way street. The process has changed a lot in the past few years, in large part because of the Internet.

And that's why it's important to be able to look to more than one source and why Northfield is fortunate when it comes to community conversation. Northfield Patch hopes to corral a lot of that to help you save time. We have no issue sending you to a website that many would consider a "competitor." We don't view it that way.

That is why we've tweaked our site several times in the past year. From the look of our pages to the content we're providing, we're trying to see what Northfield residents want. We've had some ideas that have fallen flat. That's no surprise. But we've also found tremendous success with other ideas. We'll continue to bend to find, ultimately, what serves Northfield best.

But we have a lot of growing left to do.

I want to thank you for accepting Patch in Northfield and turning to it for news and information ranging from those so-called necessary stories—taxes, crime, fires—to those highlighting the good things in this community—the start-up EMS explorers, students going to Norway, and video of then-sophomore Andrew Scofield putting the Raiders hockey team on his back to help them rally for an improbable win.

This is your site.

Our hope is you take ownership in it to help mold it into what you want it to represent. I want to thank you for adding your own events and announcements, for sending photos and for being part of the conversation. I especially want to thank those of you who consistently send emails with tips, encouragement and, from time-to-time, constructive criticism. It's helping shape your site and your editor.

Before launching Northfield Patch, I spent nearly three years working for newspapers in the Rice County area. Being Patch's editor is by far the best journalism job I've had and it has little to do with a title. It's because as a Patcher, I get to be part of the community and cover it, not just hover above it and occasionally take a peek in it like so many news organizations do.

Media has changed because of you, the reader, the viewer, the user. We continue to evolve because of you, the backbone.

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