Jul 29, 2014

My Year With Patch

Celebrate with us as we celebrate a year!

My Year With Patch

You’ve probably seen or heard that Loganville-Grayson Patch is a full year-old this week. It’s hard to imagine that it has only been a year and then again, there are moments when I think – already?? What an incredibly special resource we have in our community! So let me tell you why I feel uniquely qualified to speak to this specialness with such pride.

I’ve got a few roots in the community news of Loganville, Grayson and Snellville. Years ago, a friend who was doing a newsletter in Grayson for her real estate firm asked me to help put together The Grayson Gazette, the beginning our “publishing empire.” I stepped in during the Spring of 2002 mostly as a graphic designer while she went about taking the photos and digging out the significance of everything that was positive in Grayson. When she began working more intimately with the family’s real estate company, I began the task of designer/journalist/editor. And as with most small businesses, I also ended up taking out the trash and washing the windows. I had a friend who was a photographer “on staff,” a friend who was an accountant “on staff,” and my dad had the onerous task of proof reading. We expanded out to create the Loganville Times and then the Snellville Community News during the next few years.

I eventually relinquished the editorial and administrative parts of the community news to Impact Media and pursued my career as a “world-reknowned-as-far-as-my-mother-is-concerned” graphic artist. 

Throughout my journalistic years, Sharon Swanepoel and I had worked several stories side-by-side. Friendly competitors, if you will. Feeling a commitment to Grayson, Loganville and Snellville to get things said, there were stories that needed to be covered NOW that just couldn’t wait for the monthly publication of our community news. Sharon’s resources were a bit more timely. It worked.

But there were many of us in the local media watching the progress of on-line news sources – even the big names were putting together web links to their newspapers. We tried to figure out the “how” of making the jump from paper to web. I think we all realized the significance of more immediate news and I think we all recognized the huge data base and information management that would be required for this kind of project. And I think we all realized this was beyond our capabilities.

So I can’t tell you how excited I was when we started hearing about AOL and Patch. And then it was even more exciting to learn that Sharon had received the offer to put the Loganville-Grayson Patch together! Well respected around our section of Gwinnett and Walton, her professionalism and open-minded approach to news as well as controversial situations were just perfect for our community. She already knew the ins-and-outs, the who's who, the history behind some of the relationships,and where the moats could be crossed.

And you just wouldn’t believe how excited I was when she asked if I could help “get it live” from the Grayson-side last year! 

Did I tell you I was excited or what!?

Beyond just wanting to help (I’m told I’m just not good at saying “no”) I really wanted to see how AOL was going to pull this thing together! And boy-howdy, has this been an amazing process.

As a free-lance journalist/guest editor/blogger/columnist and sometimes back-up photographer and chauffeur, I am still loving all aspects of the Patch “project.” I appreciate that it is a flexible mechanism that changes when something isn’t working and remains incredibly responsive to possibilities that will provide better news resources. While these changes undoubtedly cause SOME problems (commenting, anyone?), they are administered to make the Patch outlets more intertwined, providing readers with news important to them, but maybe outside the individual Patch boundary.

I have been pleased to see that many of my friends who were so active on Loganville Online have also become active Patch participants. I truly believe that one of the great things Loganville-Grayson Patch had as a step-up was the information community resource that evolved from LOL. As Sharon called upon some of us “regulars” to be a more active part of the news, we all stepped fairly naively into journalism-mode from friendly-combatant-mode.

It’s been a great year and probably some of the most fun I’ve ever had! I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to explore the more journalistic side of my life under the tutelage of Sharon and our regional editor, Perry Parks. Sharing this year with long-time friends while making a few new ones along the way has made this a phenomenal time in my life. Sharing all this with our readers has been …well,  a bit scary sometimes, to be honest … but nonetheless so very cherished.

I look forward to meeting some of my fellow travellers in Patch-land and catching up with our readers as we celebrate our anniversary week. Come visit with us at the Chick Fil A on Tuesday and at Grayson Day on Saturday! Have some cake, share with us your story (everybody has one!), and put some faces with names.

Congratulations, Sharon! I can't wait for our next adventure!

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