The Merriweather Post Turns 1!
Today - December 13 - marks exactly one year since I created The Merriweather Post and put up my first article. To mark the anniversary, I want to take a moment to reflect. But, before I jump in, thank you all for reading, engaging, liking/tweeting and interacting with the blog and helping it grow over the past year - I hope my blog has been as much fun for you all to read as it has been for me to write. I personally have learned so much over the past year - and I hope my articles have also helped you all become better inform about what’s happening and what’s next in Downtown Columbia, instill a sense of pride in where we live, and inspired some to become more civically engaged!
At its onset, I sought for my blog to help fill a void that is missing in Howard County - a legit independent online news organization like DCist or Popville in DC, The MoCoShow or Source of the Spring in Montgomery County, Baltimore Brew, or ARLNOW, to name just a few. The Merriweather Post is no where close to being a Columbia equivalent of any of those sites, and quite frankly, I no longer aspire for it to ever become one. Those are legitimate profitable ventures with entire news teams and paid advertisers. I’m just one person - a hobby blogger - doing this for fun while prioritizing family and career. I’m driven primarily by my curiosity and excitement for Downtown Columbia, my passion for writing, and desire to share the information I learn with my community.
As just one person with limited time, I have to pick and choose what I cover. And naturally, I choose to write about the stories that interest me the most - which is predominantly the issues surrounding (and my advocacy for!) the urbanization of Downtown Columbia into a sustainable walkable destination with lots of events, restaurants, venues, public spaces, transit options, and a new mix of housing choices to ensure anybody who wants to live here can. I'd describe The Merriweather Post as a hyper-local neighborhood news blog with a urbanist slant. I certainly recognize that not everybody shares my enthusiasm for smart growth, and that’s okay! I welcome civil discourse on the issues I write about - whether you agree with me or not - and I encourage people to share their knowledge as well - there is so much I don't know about that I'd love to learn.
When I first started my blog a year ago, I stated my goal is to stick to the facts and take an unbiased neutral position when covering controversial topics, and in some stories I believe that I have succeeded in that goal, but in others, I haven’t. And I'm okay with that! I have grown into a preferred writing style that predominantly includes heavily-researched fact-finding and some investigative reporting, but also incorporates my own perspective and speculation. Hey, I’m not a journalist; I’m a blogger, and while this conflation of fact and opinion may turn off some; what makes this fun for me is not shying away from (sometimes) incorporating my own thoughts into the articles I write. And I enjoy covering a mix of topics ranging from things as uncontroversial as a new restaurant opening to as divisive as the Board of Education elections.
The trouble is that Howard County no longer has an actual dedicated newspaper - either in print or online. The Columbia Flyer and Howard County Times are both part of the Baltimore Sun and the Suns’ Howard County coverage is limited. So, professional news is often absent. Collectively, Howard County does have a fantastic blog and podcast scene - some more news oriented than others. All of which help fill the void, though all of us come with our own bias and none of us (to my knowledge) are beholden to any professional journalist standards or have editors reviewing our work! Nonetheless, I find that all the local blogs and podcasts provide tremendous value to our community and I could go on and on about what I like best about each of them. Personally, I feel a responsibility to do the best I could to fairly and accurately cover a topic and include all perspectives when writing about issues that haven't yet been reported on by professional news organizations.
Over time, I have become more strategic on how I share my articles. I have come to reserve my website exclusively for my own written articles. I immediately post my articles on my Facebook page and Twitter account. But, for the most part, I have stopped sharing my posts to the various Howard County Facebook groups (though I have no objection if anybody else wants to share them!), so if you enjoy reading my articles and don't want to miss anything, make sure you like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or subscribe to the website so you receive an email whenever I post something new. I also use my social media pages to post any immediate breaking news or quick news tidbits that don't warrant an entire website article. And I am always looking to pass on interesting and relevant information on my social accounts, particularly regarding people or organizations doing good in the community, so feel free to reach out if there is something you want me to share. And please please, I encourage discussion in the comments of my posts and also invite you to let me know if you have any suggested topics for me to cover.
Thank you all so much for reading and following the blog over the past year! My very first post, on December 13 2019, proclaimed my excitement for all that is set to happen in Columbia in 2020. Little did I know what an extraordinarily difficult year it would be, but here's to hoping that the upcoming year allows us to get back to actual events that brings community together and continued progress in realizing the Downtown Columbia master plan. I look forward to writing about it!