hburgnews.com: 2006 – 2011

Brent Finnegan -- July 29th, 2011

Regular hburgnews readers have noticed by now that new stories have been published on this site less and less frequently this summer. As you may have suspected, we’re winding down operations. This site will essentially become an archive (with an occasional new reader-contributed post every now-and-then).

The decision to stop publishing on a regular basis was reached after years of searching unsuccessfully for a more sustainable model for a community-run local news organization. It’s an issue of not enough time and money (but mostly not enough time or interest).

I hate to end it now, but five years is a good run. When I started hburgnews in July 2006, I wrote:

It’s my hope that enough people in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County will take an interest in informing neighbors online, that this blog site will become more community-run, rather than operated by one guy (me) who really doesn’t have the time to post stories on a daily basis.

That never materialized to the degree I had hoped it would. Currently, the handful of other writers and I simply don’t have the time necessary to update hburgnews on a daily (or even weekly) basis.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in the Harrisonburg community over the last half-decade. With very few resources, we covered breaking news, asked questions that the local media weren’t, crowdsourced money for in-depth reports, and were able to focus on local elections in a way that the local media wouldn’t.

I hope to see a newer (better) site to pick up where hburgnews is leaving off. I’m encouraged by the stories in the HHS Newsstreak, as well as the level of activity on CommonPlace.

We still have the ability to post new local-interest stories if you send them to us.

Thanks for reading!

29 Responses to “hburgnews.com: 2006 – 2011”

  1. David Miller says:

    Thanks for everything, everyone involved has provided a real asset to the community.

       6 likes

  2. Randall See says:

    This is definitely a loss. Thanks and congratulations to Brent, Jeremy and others for sticking it out so long.

       6 likes

  3. Christa says:

    Thanks for all your hard work Brent & Co. We appreciate your commitment to bringing news to the community.

       5 likes

  4. Lowell Fulk says:

    There may be a newer site, Brent, but there won’t be a better site. H’burg News set a pretty high bar my friend.

    Thank you all so much, you’ve contributed greatly to the dialog and news for our community.

       6 likes

  5. Chaz Evans-Haywood says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the articles and comments on this site over the years. It is actually one of only 4 sites that I make a point to check daily for informative and sometimes alternative ways of viewing a given situation. Thank you all for what you have accomplished and the service you have provided.

       6 likes

  6. Brooke says:

    I have really enjoyed the stories you guys posted, and the forum, but I completely understand why you’re winding down.

    Many thanks to all the people that made hburgnews possible over the last 5 years!!

       3 likes

  7. Thanks, Brent, to you and everyone who contributed to the important work of http://www.hburgnews.com. I am so grateful for the quality of the posts and civility of the comments. Reading here taught me a lot. Be proud of what you accomplished!

       6 likes

    • Lowell Fulk says:

      Very meaningful comment, this… Ms. Houff has walked the talk, and in such a meaningful manner.

         2 likes

  8. Emmy says:

    Thanks for everything you did with this site Brent! Thanks to all who contributed as well. It’s a loss to be sure, but I understand how hard it must be to keep something like this going.

       3 likes

  9. Chris Edwards says:

    Brent, Thanks for doing this as long as you did!! Times are crazy.

       4 likes

  10. Randy Lowery says:

    Thanks, Brent.

       1 likes

  11. You’re welcome. Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

    This several-year-long citizen journalism project has certainly been educational.

       2 likes

  12. Renee says:

    Wow, I’m so sad to hear this, but I understand. I agree with Lowell, you set the bar very high.

    In this town that’s a great model for “community-driven” anything, I do hope people continue to contribute. I’ll definitely stay subscribed via RSS so I don’t miss any future stories!

    Thanks for all of the time and heart you put into hburgnews, Brent!

       3 likes

  13. Bazrik says:

    Wow, that stinks and, at the same time, is totally understandable. Thank you for one of the best public forums I have ever seen. It will be sorely missed.

       1 likes

  14. cook says:

    Brent, I know that you have invested boatloads of time exploring and thinking about the future of news organizations in light of the internet explosion. You and I discussed it several years ago when you held hope that there may be a sustainable way to deliver local news, not leaving us to the wolves of international media syndicates and entertainment/gossip news. I recall being dubious but wanting you to be right. What are your current thoughts on the future of sustainable local news?

       2 likes

    • I seemed to run into a sort of dead end each way I turned.

      - The “volunteer model” only works on a very large scale (The Huffington Post gets most of their content for free from volunteers). It’s a recipe for burnout, and it tends to attract mostly people who want to air their opinions, not report news.

      - The non-profit model works for slightly larger news orgs like MinnPost, but would be hard to pull off in a city the size of Harrisonburg (with just one or two people running it). The organizational red tape and bookkeeping requirements were a big turn-off for me. Also, through my limited experience with grants, I’ve learned that grant money is difficult to procure, and slow to arrive.

      - The advertising model is only a trickle of money for a publication this size. We tried several times unsuccessfully to find someone to sell ads for us on commission. Online-only ads bring in pennies on the dollar compared to print ads, so even in the best of times, we’re talking about several hundred dollars a week — hardly enough to pay for freelance contributors, let alone litigation insurance or a part-time staff writer/editor.

      I suppose it would take some combination of the three of those to make a news org sustainable in Harrisonburg. The hard part is the organizing, not the news content.

         3 likes

  15. Ross says:

    My hat is off to you Brent! If you use these same talents in a paying career… you will be wealthy in many ways.
    Good Luck!
    Enjoy life!
    Thank you again,
    Ross

       1 likes

  16. Bruce Lundeen says:

    H’burg News has provided our community with a focus on local news and commentary on topics of concern that will be missed. Brent and all that have been involved are to be commended for having done a great job. Many thanks for your 5 years of hard work developing a community news platform.

       1 likes

  17. Evan Dyson says:

    All participants should be proud of how far the site was able to come. I was glad to have been able to contribute. I could say a lot, but I’ll just be short: Thank you.

       2 likes

  18. Joshua says:

    Disappointed to see it end. Hburgnews was a great source for local goings on. Although you mention some possible replacements, I sincerely doubt they will be able to fill your all’s shoes.

    Thanks for everything!

       2 likes

  19. bazrik says:

    …one last question – what’s Briggman going to do with all this free time now?

       4 likes

  20. Thanks to Brent and the others involved in this. It has been a useful outlet. I know it is a lot of work, so none of us should criticize them for getting tired of doing it. The rest of us have not stepped up. Anyway, best to all of you in what you do in the future, and thanks again for what you have done.

       2 likes

  21. Thanks for Hburgnews, Brent et. al. I’ve very much enjoyed this site, and will miss it.

       2 likes

  22. Chris Graham says:

    Sorry to see this, Brent. (And sorry to be so behind in seeing it.)

    You are where I may be in six months or a year. Independent community journalism is a labor of love. That much was obvious with what you and the group did at hburgnews. Kudos to you all for what you were able to do for five good years.

       2 likes

  23. Ross says:

    OK, this site is still good to post things of interest…maybe you could turn into a blog where people make the subject.

       0 likes

  24. Ross says:

    I just had a “light bulb moment”… Deb Fitzgerald should run this blog. We need unbiased facts, rather than the one sided propaganda on that other local blog….. Deb digs for the facts!!!

    What do you say, Deb?

       1 likes

  25. Ross says:

    …Are you interested in selling “H’Burg news”?

       2 likes

    • Not really. Because it’s something that we’ve all put a lot of time and effort into building, it would be hard to imagine just selling it to the highest bidder. It’s worth more than money to me.

         4 likes

  26. Joe E says:

    http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/net2/Harrisonburg-VA-Real-Time-US-Radiation-Monitoring-Graph.aspx

    This graph shows real time radiation monitoring for Harrisonburg. It has been very high since the nuclear melt-throughs in Japan. I never watched closely before that so maybe our radiation has always been high? Can anyone provide insight as to why our radiation is so high? Does anyone know who is doing the EPA monitoring? Many EPA sites have been down since 3/11 but ours has been consistently high. There is a reason our cancer rates are so high in this country. Stopping the radiation would seem a much more effective strategy than hosting a walk-a-thon.

       0 likes

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