I had a nice, long chat with Bob Plain - head honcho over at the newly revitalized RIFuture blog - this morning over hot chocolate at Small Point Cafe downtown. I'll have a longer piece on him in the next week or so - interesting guy. But one bit I wanted to note today.
The lefty blog has, in recent memory, been known as a place for commentary. And there is still plenty of that. But Plain, who has worked at daily newspapers all over the country, is looking to add a new element - daily journalism. And he is the primary engine of that effort, logging serious time at the State House and reporting on the state's Congressional delegation.
He tells me that David Pepin, recently laid off from the East Greenwich Pendulum, should be on board shortly as a cities-and-towns reporter for the site.
It's part of an interesting, broader trend: a sort of alternate, daily press corps that has sprouted up in competition with the Providence Journal in recent years. That alternate comes in all shapes and sizes: Plain's RIFuture has an obvious political tilt, WPRI-TV blogger Ted Nesi attacks the daily news with an analytical flare, GoLocalProv favors the hard-hitting, the Rhode Island Public Radio crew combines its audio work with blogging.
The ProJo, of course, has long had competition for daily news from more traditional television and radio (WPRO) outlets. Smaller newspapers have also done battle with the Goliath. But this is something new - a small, digital, youthful core that has only become more important with the advent of the ProJo's paywall.
It's size and range, of course, cannot match the Journal's newsroom. It is, though, very much worth watching.