It was Jan. 8 online, Jan. 9 in print, that we first announced the Eagle i initiative to Marco Island.
“With the advent of the Web, every citizen has the opportunity to become an eagle-eyed reporter, posting what they see and hear and do for the world to see ... Your photograph could end up on the front page of the Eagle, online and in print. Your article could run alongside that of any staff reporter. Your column could be a regular part of our online community and print publication. You can blog, post video or, what the heck, just tell us what you’d like to do and we’ll make it happen; within reason of course.”
Last month, I gave readers their first update on how the program was going.
“In January, reader submissions were more than double any month prior — at least in my time here. In February, January’s results doubled again ... Thanks to you, we’ve been able to engage the community like never before and bring you an unprecedented amount of coverage.”
It was during that update that I first announced that you, the reader (although that term no longer applies, as you are much more than readers now), would take over this, the March 27 issue of the Eagle. And here we are. From the front page photograph to the very last article, you put this issue together with very few exceptions — like this article, the weather, and of course your Diversions section. We didn’t want to make the bridge players and puzzlers mad.
Due to your overwhelming response — thank you — we had more reader-generated copy than would fit into one issue. But don’t worry, you Eagle i reporters are here to stay, as a regular part of every issue. And don’t underestimate what we all have done here. This may just be the first time a newspaper of this size has handed the reins entirely to the community. Together, we’re making history on this little piece of Paradise we call home.
So why did we do it? To prove a newspaper can be run without reporters? Hardly. There will always be a place for talented journalists. Because we’re cheap? We prefer the term economical, but no, that’s not it. Mostly, we just want to put the word “community” back into community newspapers. The Web has taught us that you aren’t satisfied just being passive readers. You want to get out there and be a part of it all.
To help make this issue possible, some of the regular columns you’d normally see on Friday are not inside this issue. They’ll return next week. You’ll also note our regular reporters, who we now call content editors, spent a lot more time editing and preparing copy for this issue than making phone calls, taking meetings and photos.
You’ll find photos — we call them mug shots — of each member of the Marco editorial staff on this page. If you see them in the community, say hi. And don’t be surprised if they ask you to write, photograph or videotape something. If you send us your mug, we’ll gladly run it to. Proclaim to the whole Island that you are an Eagle i, and damn proud of it.
As I said in February, we may be a small town newspaper, but we have a staff of hundreds, making sure that no stone goes unturned. You are defining the way information will be shared in the world of tomorrow.
So keep up the good work. Upload your article, photo or video at yourmarco.com, or send it to email@example.com.