Happy Birthday, Reston Patch
We launched this site a year ago today. So far, so good?
Last Aug. 12, I was preparing to go live with a new website, Reston Patch. I tried to spread the word in the summer of 2010, talking up Aol's new endeavor all around Reston.
Still, we launched with a little fanfare at Patch headquarters in New York (we were site No. 99 - now there are close to 900!) and not so much fanfare here in Reston.
But little by little, and then quite quickly, Patch caught on (even if so many are still calling it "The Patch." I don't care, as long as they are reading).
Aol's vision of a nationwide network of hyperlocal websites was perfect for Reston. This "town" - yeah, yeah, I know it is a really not a town, but that is another issue for another day - is a place where people have a strong sense of community. They care about everything from founder Robert E. Simon's seven principles to Rail to Dulles to the break-in at their neighbor's garage.
This is a community that loves to debate - whether it is where to get the best cupcake or what is good or not so good about our schools.
Reston was a place ripe for the fast pace of a real news website.
Early in my career, I had an editor in the sports department who said "first is better even if it is not." And that was back when you had to wait for your local news to land on your doorstep at sunrise.
In 2011, Patch is usually first, and I think that makes us better. For a community accustomed to getting its news from competing weeklies, reading a website updated several times a day, often with news that happened THAT DAY, is truly bringing community news into the 21st Century.
Also, it's created a conversation - Patch doesn't just tell you the news, it encourages you to talk about the news and be a part of the news
Twelve months later, I like to think we are a vital part of that community. If I can brag for a second, I want to point out that Reston Patch has more readers, more Facebook followers and more advertisers than any other Patch site in Virginia.
Our success is no secret. We have an awesome staff of freelancers who live in and know Reston; we have a regional editor, Chris Moore, who used to be the publisher of the Reston Observer; after a long career in daily newspapers, I am thrilled to be working in online news in the community I have called home for nearly 15 years.
But it is as much about our reception in the community as anything else. You can have the sharpest minds in journalism creating the copy, but if it is boring, incorrect or not timely, no one will read it. People are reading, so that's the validation we need (though if you want to buy me a celebratory scoop of Iceberry, I may take you up on that).
So happy birthday to us and a big thank you to the readers for making our first year a lot of fun and helping our site grow faster than a seventh-grader.
Please continue reading, talking, providing news tips and story ideas, debating, complimenting and discussing.
We'll be right here.