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ON THE MEDIA

An e-model for journalism in Seattle

After the 146-year-old Post-Intelligencer folded last year, 20 of 160 employees were retained to produce an online product.

March 20, 2010|James Rainey

The community bloggers produce useful items -- like school curriculum debates and local crime trends. They also offer plenty that is leaden or narrow -- a bride's musings on her wedding or a homeowner's ponderous diary on a visit by a film crew.

David Brewster, who founded and ran the alternative Seattle Weekly and now heads Crosscut.com, said he finds some PI stories provocative. But the tangle of information overwhelms him.

"I am slashing my way through this jungle and occasionally finding good stuff," Brewster said, "and I think that is a mistake."

But some of the new generation is relishing the conversation, which may be epitomized by Guzman, 27, and the followers of her popular Big Blog. She celebrates funky, techy, alternative Seattle in her posts and weekly coffee house meetings with readers.

They discuss Twitterculture, "Star Trek," bicycle etiquette and politics at spots like Nana's Soup House in the boho Fremont district. It's not unusual for Guzman to invite along an author or, say, a break dancing crew.

A handful of Big Blog faithful got a little giddy this week recalling favorite flash-mob style events that Guzman has championed -- from the gathering of 4,000 costumed zombies to a mass, no-pants light rail jaunt to Seattle-Tacoma airport. "Awesome," said Johnathan Fitzpatrick, 26.

A regular at the Big Blog sessions, Fitzpatrick said Seattle's low-barrier journalism and Guzman's PI blog moved him to become part of the conversation.

He's not letting go of his job at Kinko's yet. But he's freelancing for the PI and writing for a bunch of other news outlets.

Said Fitzpatrick, "I would say the Big Blog was responsible for me becoming a journalist."

james.rainey@latimes.com

Twitter: latimesrainey

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