What's up with WisCommunity? | WisCommunity

What's up with WisCommunity?

June 20, 2020 - 11:32am
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Since lately the world seems to have become crazier than normal and I have been caught up in working a lot more than normal, I thought it was time to take a deep breath and let you know what's up with us, and the news, and the future.

First off, you may have noticed the site has been more than a little wonky for the last few days. I blame lack of sleep and old age on my part. It was one of those "I'll just make this little change" issues where I made a small change to the site that was supposed to auto-refresh a small set of pages on the site every 5 minutes. Unfortunately, I fumble-fingered that and ended up putting the refresh metatag on every page in the site. And then I amazingly enough completely forgot I had done it, and then was bewildered that you couldn't play any long videos since the page would auto-refresh. My apologies, I finally figured it out by working back from the source of the pages on the site and figuring out where that was coming from. It's one of those "oh, the problem was so much simpler than I'd imagined" issues. Easy to break, easy to fix, really hard to track down. Anyway, it's gone. You may also have noticed that those of you who are subscribed to the daily newsletter have not received it for a few days. That was a little bit related to the other problem. You should have all received a honking big newsletter on Saturday the 20th to get caught up. Things will go back to normal now.

Editorially the current plan is to try to concentrate heavily on Dunn County and less on the rest of the Chippewa Valley. This is partly due to resources, since at the moment there are not a lot of funds, and not a lot of staff. Also, since the Dunn County News is shifting to publishing once per week, we're in a position to be the only daily news in the area. We could use some help - see below.  In any case, my intention is to try to do more coverage of local government meetings, which is a tricky proposition during the pandemic when your primary reporter is an at-risk individual. Expect to see more virtual meetings reflected here on the site, and more write-ups of what happened in them. This in itself is a little tricky because there are multiple different technologies being used to hold these meetings and frankly, sometimes the magic doesn't work. 

One new start at this is that I finally figured out a way to live-stream the Menomonie School Board meetings using the wifi in the administrative building. Expect to see real-time coverage of that meeting and some others as time goes on. 

The politics season is quickly descending upon us. You can expect to see more traditional political coverage in the next few months. I will be starting out by interviewing Mark Neumann, who is running as a Democrat against 3rd District Representative Ron Kind in the August primary. I expect that interview to air here on Thursday next week. I'm also working with other groups in the area to bring candidate forums and other political coverage as the season progresses. Stay Tuned.

WisCommunity has recently entered into a partnership with Polco is a nationwide polling system that allows government bodies and journalists to poll citizens on issues of concern. We're still working through some of the technology to use that well, but if you are using Polco you will soon be able to weigh in on questions from us as well as from other places. Go to the  to set up an account 

WisCommunity is trying to hire some people. You will not get rich, but we could really use some folks who are willing to write stories about the community. We're always happy to consider stories written for speculation, but we will pay small amounts for assigned stories. If this interests you, if you want to get some experience writing for the web and would like to earn a little money in the process, get in touch at tips@wis.community. Stories may cover a wide range of topics, but should be of distinct interest to people in the Chippewa Valley, particularly Dunn County.

This brings us to the website. When I did this site design some number of years back, I had a different vision for WisCommunity than what happened. I had intended it primarily as a community forum and a place where people would contribute their own stories, ideas, and information. I expected debate. I planned it as a place for different organizations in the community to build their own worlds and forums. I was a fool. It turns out there's very little interest, apparently. So, it has more or less shrunk down to being a news site that has a whole lot of bloat and extra features that never got used much,  but really impinge on the performance and behavior of the site. There is also the issue that deep down in the core of the site it is based on Drupal 7, which is going to stop being supported in late 2021. So, there needs to be a plan. I have a plan, but it's a lot of work, and it would be really great if folks could pitch in with some of the editorial tasks.  Talk to me.

Lastly, there's money. People often think that all of this stuff just magically happens. It doesn't. It's a lot of work. It sucks up a lot more money than you would think. There are web hosting fees, software licenses (particularly Zoom and Streamyard and a bunch of other niggling things). There's hardware - a lot of money goes into cameras and interfaces and audio equipment. I am genuinely grateful for the people in the community who have stepped up to help out - you know who you are. But in the end, I'm still personally paying for this site every month, and would really like to be able to be compensated at least a little for the time and effort involved. 

You can help with that. Journalism costs money, and with more money we could do a lot more, and do it better. A really effective way to help with this is to give us some money. Yup, that's crass, but it's true. for $30/year or more. . And for a limited time we are partnering with the Local Media Association to give you an opportunity to to us to help us to pay for the extra costs from COVID-19 coverage. 

Finally - there are all those annoying ads. I would love to be running more ads from local businesses, non-profits, and anyone else local who would like an inexpensive place to promote themselves while supporting local journalism. Also, if there's someone out there with advertising sales experience who would be interested in a commissioned sales spot, I'd love to hear from you. In any case, email tips@wis.community to learn more. 


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Thank you for all you do.  Finding local, current updates can be difficult when newspapers cut back or terminate.

Steve Hanson
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