The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Discoveries in my inbox: PerthNorg!

An intriguing discovery in my inbox this afternoon: an e-mail from Bronwen Clune, the founder of a flash-looking Web 2.0-ish news service called PerthNorg. While our other new online news service pays lip service to citizen journalism, this site takes a full-on WikiNews-style approach to local news.

PerthNorg There’s Digg-style voting as well (albeit with vote links that aren’t prominent enough) — I’ll definitely be doing that even if I don’t get around to submitting anything. This mix has confused a few people, although I think the implementation has been done pretty well for the majority of Perthurians who’ll have never heard of either. Oh, and I do love seeing proper use of Web standards!

I’d actually found out about PerthNorg last week via this post on a Sydney Morning Herald blog (the things you learn reading eastern states newspapers …). But I’ve been busy with honours and work, and marked it in my mind as something to blog about later, particularly seeing as it was so light on content.

The site is still light on content, albeit much less so than it was; I’m reluctant to add it to my feed reader until that changes. Indeed, Jeff Jarvis’ excitement aside, I’ve not seen many other localised news plays that are built solely out of user-generated content, so I do wonder whether it will take hold.

That said, PerthNorg does have a lot of promise and is definitely worthy of my recommendation — if only because it’s currently the one good hope we have of a decent quality news service in Western Australia :-)

(Meanwhile: also in my inbox today was an e-mail from Southern Coast Transit thanking me and promising a fix for a comment I made about bus drivers ‘logging off’ their trips before I could tag off my SmartRider … which I’d sent over a month ago!)

P.S. The lack of posting here hasn’t been an accident. Announcements are forthcoming, consider yourselves warned!

  1. PerthNorg… I first heard about it a month ago when someone from the site wanted the “Photographers In Perth” flickr group to post some photos in there.

    While I haven’t posted any myself, a few of my fellow group members have done so. I’m fairly dubious about the site at the moment – the newsgroups that I had been reading on the site were fairly low-quality, “MySpace”-style news reporting, if you could call it that!

    I had also personally been invited to post a few of my gig shots on there. I think I do enough free web contributions to add more to PerthNorg.

    I’m waiting to see how it all turns out later.

  2. Hi Hourann,

    Thanks for the write-up and feedback. We’re actually in the process of making some cosmetic changes and putting the voting buttons in a more prominent position is on this week’s agenda.

    The point I want to make is about content – we are starting to get some good quality contributors to the site who are having a go and writing. If something interests you and you don’t see it there – then you have the ability to post it to the site. It is a chance for people to bring their passions to the attention of Perth’s public.
    So I want to encourage everyone out there to have a go – there’s no point lamenting lack of news and issues and then failing to contribute any.

    I came up with the idea of PerthNorg when I realised that people were continully being let down by traditional media companies visions of citizen journalism. Like you pointed out they really do fail to get it.

    So I’ll give you a brief rundown of what you can do on the Norg and why:

    Creating a link:
    You can create links to any media story around the world. We are not tied to any news orgnanisation and this way we can share the best of the best with the Perth community. I think this is where the confusion has come in about us being a “news aggregator” – but to me allowing an easy way to share links to the world’s media was important. It’s also not something most traditional media will be embracing.

    You can leave your comments here – unmoderated – what you write is what you see.

    You can write orginal copy:
    If you have an issue to raise, a story to write or something you care about – this is where you have the chance to write about it. You can also create news as an audio file or video and we embed the files on our site. The same goes for photos. This is the area I’d mot like to see people getting involved in.

    Who decides what news is best? You – voting sends the good stuff to the top. We decided on this model so that the site is truly in the hands of our users.

    On that note – I better get back and start doing some writing of my own…

    Hopefully I’ll see yo round the Norg!

    PS. I’d love some of the feedback to come through my own blog on PerthNorg – Norgdom.

  3. Wow, that was an impressively detailed response to my comments ;-)

    I acknowledge it’s somewhat hypocritical to bag the site for lacking content and not contributing anything, although I was trying to just call it as I saw it. If I’d written a review of Wikipedia in 2002, I’d have criticised it for a lack of content as well, which is not to deny its awesomeness now. (And I do reserve the right to rant on my own blog with no respect for procedural fairness!)

    But in your summary of PerthNorg you’ve more or less outlined exactly why I think the site has so much promise. Given some time to establish itself, I can see PerthNorg making a real dent on the local media scene.

  4. What a load of crap. Web 2.0 and ‘citizen jouranlism’ sucks. Bear in mind that the owners of sites like perthorg are making money. Why then not pay the journos? This is how news site should be run, and how the successful ones are. I can’t help but notice the complete lack of real content there.

  5. Okay that’s a really broad brush you’re painting with there. First up while there are fair questions to be raised about citizen journalism, saying that all of Web 2.0 sucks is ridiculous. Flickr, Gmail, Wikipedia, and all have their flaws, but they most definitely don’t suck.

    While PerthNorg is light on content (which I addressed, if you’d care to read the other comments), there is a strong trend towards user-created content, in more fields than just news, all over the Web. And given the state of our current news services in Perth, I reckon that a local user-generated site is desperately needed, even if just to mix things up a bit.

    And that remains true if the owners are monetising their traffic. Slashdot, for instance, has been going great for years even though it carries ads. (Though bear in mind that PerthNorg’s owners are not making money, at least not yet, judging by how few real ads the site has.)

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