Some people – especially the apparatchiks in the New Rochelle School District and various government officials in New Rochelle – have expressed some surprise that Talk of the Sound has been so successful since its launch last summer. We are now getting about 8-10,000 readers a month (and growing) and have a Google Page Rank of 4 (out of 10) which makes Talk of the Sound the #1 New Rochelle hyper-local news site on the Internet and one of the most widely read “New Rochelle” web sites period (e.g., the City’s own web site has a Google Page Rank of 5 and the School District’s web site is a “4”).
Believe it or not Talk of the Sound is a side project for me. Most of my time is spent running an organization called the Media Bloggers Association which has, as its primary mission, to provide legal support services to bloggers. We have defended bloggers in cases involving The New York Times, Associated Press, the State of Maine, Oprah Winfrey and hundreds of others.
As part of that work I am often ask to speak at conferences on journalism, new media/blogging and the law/courts. A couple weeks ago I was asked to speak at a conference called NewsVision. The panel was “News in Transition,” where panelists were asked to talk about trends in Internet journalism. In the photo above are, left to right, Jeff Birnbaum of The Washington Times and Fox News, me, Kinsey Wilson of NPR and Ju-Don Roberts of washingtonpost.com, Lou Ferrara of the Associated Press/Sports. Event sponsors were the Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, the Newspaper Guild, the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, the Knight Foundation, and the Online News Organization. Some of the other speakers included John Harris who runs Politico and Vivisn Schiller who runs NPR.
The event was held at the Newseum which is an incredible new museum which focuses on journalism where I am part of the “We Media” exhibit for my work obtaining full media credentials for bloggers from the U.S. District Court in Washington for the “Scooter” Libby Trial. I was the first blogger so credentialed — all in all, my organization obtained credentials for 22 bloggers. We have done similar work for presidential debates and sporting events including the NFL Super Bowl.
I mention all of this because I wanted the kooks and trolls (and various public officials) who routinely seek to attack this site that I routinely deal with such nonsense and have been for many years. I am pretty sure if I can take on major corporations including large media companies, state governments, federal agencies and all manner of litigant in defending other bloggers right to run their blogs as they see fit then I am not likely to be terribly worried about dealing with the pack of liars, crooks and thieves who have operated in the dark for far too long here in New Rochelle. Our City is a municipality of 75,000 people (or more), the 7th largest City in the state and yet for many years there has been no daily paper covering New Rochelle. Neither the Journal News or Channel 12 News — the closest thing we have to local media — have a “beat reporter” assigned to New Rochelle so unless you shoot someone or shoot the winning basket at a high school basketball game you are going to hard pressed to get coverage of local issues.
It has been too ridiculous for too long that a City the size of New Rochelle does not have its own local media. We aim to change that. From what I can see, we are starting to succeed – and 40,000 visitors since September 1, 2008 would suggest that I am not alone.