On the latest “What Works” podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Bob Sprague, a pioneer in hyperlocal journalism and the founder of yourArlington, a nonprofit news project that covers Arlington, Massachusetts. Bob, who has lived in Arlington since 1989, was not only the founder — he was the editor of the website until July 1 of this year, when he retired. The new editor is Judith Pfeffer.
Bob was an Arlington Town Meeting member in 2006-09, and was also a journalist. He has been a reporter and an editor at The Boston Globe and Boston Herald, among other publications. He launched the town’s website in 1998, but also recognized a need for an independent, nonpartisan source of information. In 2006, he launched yourArlington.
I’ve got a Quick Take on the latest report on the state of local news by Penelope Muse Abernathy, who’s now at the Medill School at Northwestern University. The report has a lot of bad news, some good news, and some interesting information from The Boston Globe and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which is one of the news outlets that we profile in our forthcoming book, “What Works in Community News.”
Ellen talks about another Massachusetts local startup, The Belmont Voice. The nonprofit Voice has an impressive roster of advisers from the print and digital world — and is, along with the Belmontonian, one of two independent sources of community journalism in the town.
You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.
Correction: Bob contacted us to let us know that a recent town proclamation honoring his service misstated the time when he was a member of Arlington’s Town Meeting — and that it overlapped with his early years of publishing yourArlington. “I did find it difficult to be a TM rep and report about Town Meeting,” he says.