Fourteen years ago, Historic City News broke ground in St Augustine with the idea of independent, straight-talking reports of local news — albeit in a much different, newsletter-only format. We started down an uncharted course of continual growth and haven’t looked back. Our latest accomplishment is as important as any other we have announced in recent years.
What distinguishes Historic City News from other news services? There is radio, television, print, and Internet. We use the Internet to communicate the local news of the day, in the St Johns County area, as observed and reported by local citizens. Our “citizen journalist” model allows us to produce and publish a different product in our market.
On February 1, 2014, Historic City News became part of the Watchdog Network when founder and managing editor, Michael Gold, was appointed to the position of Florida State Editor for Watchdog Wire; a grassroots network of citizen journalists, funded by the not-for-profit Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.
“Our mission and methods were so similar as to almost say they were identical,” Gold said of his appointment in a public announcement published by the Watchdog Wire’s national managing editor, Jackie Moreau. “Watchdog Wire exists to train people to become citizen journalists and provides a national platform to feature their work.”
The Franklin Center was founded in 2009 to help fill the void created as the nation’s newspapers cut back on their statehouse news coverage and investigative reporting in the wake of falling circulation and revenues. Like Historic City News, any citizen can subscribe to Watchdog Wire, free-of-charge.
“We look at the bigger picture, provide analysis that’s often missing from modern news stories, and do more than provide he-said, she-said reports from the state Capitol,” according to Moreau. “We’re leaders in the new wave of non-profit journalism. We have reporters, news sites, investigative journalists and affiliates across the country — and we’re growing.”
In addition to a nationwide team of professional journalists, Franklin Center is expanding their reach into citizen journalism. They provide training to these citizen watchdogs so that they can better employ journalistic standards as they keep their local governments accountable through their blogs and websites. While distinct from their journalism efforts, they are banking on this new wave of “information activism” to help fulfill Franklin’s vision of creating a more vibrant democratic society based on accountability and open government.
Locally, Gold says extensive resources for investigative journalism are at his fingertips. Historic City News readers benefit two ways — our writers can now exchange leads and advice with their colleagues at affiliated publications in other states, and, the articles published by Historic City News will now enjoy a truly national audience, calling more attention to the subjects we are writing about. “See and be seen,” Gold says. “Hear and be heard”.