The €œInternet portal,€ as the Daily Camera calls it, enables users to access customized community news, dished up via RSS feeds, as well as publish their own news. €œYou'll be able to send in news from your clubs and organizations, schools, youth sports teams, softball leagues or even a photo of your child's first haircut,€ Daily Camera Editor Sue Deans wrote in an article about the new service on April 10.
In many ways, MyTown is akin to a localized version of 360 , the new social networking/blogging service launched by Yahoo! late last month. Like 360, MyTown enables users to share photos, blogs entries and local event listings with others in the community. They can also use the site to create Web pages for local clubs, schools and other organizations.
Given the site€™s focus on user-generated local content, it seems a logical future step for MyTown would be to follow Yahoo! 360€™s lead and incorporate user reviews and recommendations for local businesses. Along with adding user value, such a feature could be used to promote and drive user participation of the paper€™s popular annual €œbest of Boulder€ guide, in which readers are able to vote for everything from their favorite coffee joint to the best place to go on a first date.
The Daily Camera, an E.W. Scripps Co. paper, is hoping MyTown will drive traffic to its Web sites and even generate greater usage of its print newspaper by enabling community members to more easily add their own voice to those of its editors and reporters. €œMytown.dailycamera.com will get better as time goes on — and as it expands, some of that online news will be included in the Daily Camera in print, so moms and dads and grandparents can tear out those interesting items from the paper and hang them on the refrigerator,€ Deans said. €œSoon [users will] be able to blog or communicate with others — fans of local government news may want to expand on news coverage of their city council or school board meetings. Or they can debate the finer points of legislation and its effects on neighborhoods.€
As a Boulder resident and someone who tends to read the paper online while the print edition sits in the snow on the front porch, I€™m excited about MyTown€™s potential for enabling user-generated content and encouraging greater news readership among the community. Whether that news is online or in print or written by a Daily Camera reporter or a local resident who has something to say, readership is readership €" and something the Daily Camera and other newspapers desperately need