NPT: Blog or Webzine?
The recent stories about the special uses of Alcatraz and the Charlestown Navy Yard have raised some questions not only about how the National Park Service manages its properties, but how we at National Park Traveler go about our work.
For a minute we'd like to focus on the latter question, because it runs to the integrity of the Traveler and what we hope to accomplish.
First off, we think it's important to differentiate between a blog and a webzine, or web magazine. Why? Because the former has become sort of a pejorative term and because we believe we've pushed beyond merely being a "web-log," or blog.
While blogs are increasingly popular -- Technorati simply says there are "zillions" of photo, video and blog sites -- some associate blogs with citizen journalists who simply like to see their words in print and don't always adhere to a tight ethical line in how they approach what they type. And yet, there are some incredibly fine blogs out there that on a regular basis upstage the so-called "mainstream media" in covering the news. And, admittedly, there are some not-so-fine blogs that have caused more than a few folks to look down with disdain upon bloggers as a whole.
At National Parks Traveler, we've developed a web magazine that covers the national park system and National Park Service. There's rich content, ranging from news, commentary and travel pieces on the parks to videocasts and podcasts, with more features in the planning stages. In developing that content, we adhere to commonly accepted journalistic standards and don't resort to unsubstantiated rants.
Indeed, when one anonymous reader questioned the facts of my initial post on the Charlestown Navy Yard, I double-checked my sources and about the only error I could detect was that the party actually ended at 11 p.m., not 1 a.m. as I initially reported. However, I'm told it took until 1 a.m. to remove the tents.
Along that line, we encourage readers to point out specific problems with our posts. We're not perfect, but we strive to be as accurate as possible. We're also not merely amateurs with computers, but rather have fairly lengthy resumes when it comes to what we do. While Jeremy tends to work a bit more behind the scenes in developing interpretive programs, you'll find my work in a wide range of outlets, from Smithsonian, Audubon, Hemispheres and major newspapers such as the Miami Herald, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Denver Post to The North Face's webzine, Explore Epic, which currently is featuring two of my pieces on parks.
There's a transition throughout the world on how news and information in general is being consumed. Newspaper readership and advertising is down, Internet viewership and advertising is up. The Gen-Ys and Gen-Xs -- the groups that the folks at Golden Gate National Recreation Area and many other parks so want to entice -- more often than not go online, not to the newsstand, to find out what's going on in the world and to plan their trips.
Hopefully, National Parks Traveler can provide at least a little of that information.