It was as incon­gruous a sit­u­a­tion as I could imagine. April 19 was one of the most grip­ping news days we have ever expe­ri­enced in Mass­a­chu­setts. Dzhokhar Tsar­naev, the younger of the sus­pected marathon bombers, was in hiding. Boston and sev­eral other cities were under vol­un­tary lock­down. And that morning I was dri­ving north, toward Haver­hill, on my way to a meeting where earnest com­mu­nity activists were making plans to revive local journalism.

While all hell was breaking loose else­where, the Haver­hill Mat­ters Orga­nizing Com­mittee met in a sunny con­fer­ence room at Haver­hill Com­mu­nity Tele­vi­sion. The committee’s goal is to launch a coop­er­a­tively owned news site to be calledHaver­hill Mat­ters some­time this year.

It’s been a long time coming. Tom Stites, a vet­eran jour­nalist who’s worked at The New York Times and the Chicago Tri­bune, came up with the idea of local news co-​​ops a few years ago. He founded the Banyan Project to serve as an umbrella; Haver­hill Mat­ters will be the pilot. I wrote about his plans for the Lab last year, as well as in the epi­logue to my forth­coming book about online com­mu­nity jour­nalism, The Wired City. The launch date for Haver­hill Mat­ters has slipped a few times, but at this point it looks like 2013 will be the year.

Read the article at Nieman Journalism Lab →