It's great to see the Miami Herald launch a local blog aggregator, South Florida Blogs, with journalist-turned-entrepreneur Dave Mastio. There's some explanation of what they're up on the Knight Digital Media Center Web site.
It's an idea I've long thought was a no-brainer. Maybe that because we're doing it, too.
Few other newspapers or local news media sites are, however. Organizing and helping disparate voices in the community be heard seems to me to be an obligation of a local media organization.
Mastio had a vision for a business built around blog aggregation a few years ago and he continues to evolve and expand that vision. He runs BlogNetNews and several other blog aggregation sites and at some point expanded his concept to work with local media.
We joined up with him in August 2007 for the Knoxville Blog Network, an attempt to fill the void left by the loss of Johnny Dobbins' pioneering Rocky Top Brigade Web site (remember that one?). Dobbins is at Media General's TBO.com these days.
It was also an attempt on our part to be more inclusive of bloggers. I think it's worked to a degree. Yet, the power of the tool remains largely undiscovered.
In this audio interview, Mastio uses the Knoxville blog network as an example of what he's trying to accomplish.
Some of the overlooked features of Mastio's blog platform is it's powerful search and it's RSS feeds and widgets that easily let the non-technical add a local blog "news wire" or blog search to their site.
And what I really think is neat is an advanced feature, Feed Central, that lets users slice and dice the network of blogs by blog or keyword or category and create a custom list that can be pulled into a reader or appear as an email of headlines. (An example below uses just blog posts with the keyword "journalism.")
Again, isn't it time to bring in the other voices? If you interested, drop Mastio a line at editor @ blognetnews.com. Tell him, Jack sent you.