News organizations pool power to fuel metro Web site

The site’s board hopes it someday will work as a newswire service for the area.

Jim Hammerand

Just because it’s labeled a community news Web site, don’t think the people behind the Twin Cities Daily Planet would limit its target audience to Minnesota.

Anyone with a modem can check out news items from many of the Twin Cities’ neighborhood, metrowide and ethnicity-specific publications at tcdailyplanet.net, which launches today.

More than 30 local news organizations – including The Minnesota Daily – have signed on to provide content to the nonprofit Web site.

A grant from the University of Maryland’s Institute for Interactive Journalism pays for the ad-free Web site, but Twin Cities Daily Planet board member Ann Alquist said she’d like to see the site work as a newswire service, like an Associated Press for Minnesota communities.

“The real emphasis is on making sure we have fresh content up there on a daily basis, but we’re still talking about how we can maintain some kind of community news syndication,” said Alquist, who is also news director at KFAI-FM, a low-power community radio station in the Twin Cities.

Alquist said the site could help students and communities understand one another better by making different perspectives available.

“I don’t think a lot of University of Minnesota students understand how the University interacts with some of the neighborhoods Ö or why some of the neighborhood people hate the students so much,” Alquist said.

Minnesota Daily Editor in Chief Britt Johnsen agreed that the site would help University students better understand their neighborhoods.

“We’re all different parts of this puzzle of information,” Johnsen said.

Users can post messages to the site’s forums, a feature MNspeak.com’s Matt Bartel said could fill a void left by his site.

“(MNspeak) people tend to ignore the really local stories and a lot of the human interest stuff that I think tcdaily planet might be able to get people talking about. There’s not really a Twin Cities site out there that provides that,” Bartel said.

The site also offers basic journalistic training to community members who would like to submit news content to the site.