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Tech levy loses but citizen journalism wins

May 19th, 2005 · No Comments

Courageous citizen journalist Cathy Nickum was the winner of Tuesday’s technology levy, in my mind. No she wasn’t on the ballot. It was a simple yes or no and the school district’s tech levy lost, defeated by 57% of voters. But I learned where I want to go for information. Cathy’s site Bainbridge Buzz was the best source, both before and after the election.

Tuesday night as I looked on-line to discover whether the controversial $8.9 million levy had passed, I noticed that neither of the local papers, The Sun’s Islander or The Bainbridge Review had posted results yet, but Cathy had already linked to the county election results site predicting the loss. When I was seeking to determine which way to vote, I discovered that the pieces Cathy and others had written on the Buzz describing the tech levy issues were more helpful to me than the ones in the printed media.

Sure, the newspapers interviewed school board members and the opposition leaders. Perhaps that’s why they were slower to publish on their respective sites last night. But I already know what the two sides are going to say: their polarized positions are predictable. Instead I want to hear from the thousands of other islanders who put their ballot in the box. I want to know why they voted the way they did. What helps me most is the comment section on the Buzz posts. The dialogue encourages others to share, revealing contrasting perspectives and new points of view from the rest of Bainbridge Island.

Like others who commented, I appreciated Cathy’s willingness to ask questions and to reveal her own uncertainty for the levy vote. She’s written about citizen journalism. Now she’s demonstrated its effectiveness.

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