One year ago today I was drenched in sweat, walking the misty streets of Soho to my first day of training at Patch headquarters in New York City.
Despite the city's muggy July heat, I was excited, knowing that I was about to help launch a new era of journalism — a network of online-only hyperlocal hubs for neighborhood news and information with regional and national ties. North Fork Patch made perfect sense to me, and, judging from our growing readership and active commentary, the community is catching on.
I spent about two and a half months with a team of dedicated people building up the site's directory last summer (still free to anyone who wants a listing — email me if you're not in there), taking pictures of pretty much every single business, school, church, park bench, beach, tree, and rock on the North Fork and Shelter Island, gathering information in real life and updating that info on this often horribly inaccurate monster we call the Internet.
Hard work that never seems to be finished.
Since the site went, we've been through floods and blizzards, enjoyed festivals and wine tastings, talked music and art, and engaged in some great discussions on important issues such as traffic control and other changes you'd like to see in the community and local government.
We've also experimented with format changes over the months, focusing on what's important to families, adding more video to coverage on traditional community topics such as school budgets and local elections, driving traffic and engagement through various forms of social media, and recently adding a "Local Voices" blog feature to give everyone from business owners and winemakers to artists and astrologers a chance to spout off on any topic. Email me if you'd like to sign up as a blogger — the more the merrier!
So, after a year of slaving away at this thing, I want to know what you think of North Fork Patch — what we're doing right and what you think we could do better. Do you visit the site every day or just once in a while? Which section of the site do you find most useful and/or interesting? How do you end up here — through the email newsletter? Facebook or Twitter? How did you hear about North Fork Patch in the first place?
Feel free to comment in the boxes below. And thanks for sticking with us!