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Boston NOW's big promises

The two BostonNOW promos I got during my morning commute are packed with interesting stuff. Some highlights:

--Every story in the paper (which, in case you've missed it, is the new free daily that debuts next week) allow threaded reader comments at BostonNOW.com. Great move; let's hope it prompts the Globe to follow suit.

--"If a story deserves an interactive map of crime at MBTA subway, train and bus stops, you'll find it on BostonNOW.com. If a story includes an interview with a controversial politician, you'll be able to listen to the entire interview and make up your own mind.... If a story includes a behind-the-scenes video fo a hot new band or an illegal spa or the latest Boston fashion show, you'll find it on BostonNOW.com." If BostonNOW can deliver, fantastic, but they're setting the bar really high here.

--Readers are invited to pack BostonNOW with content, both in the paper and on the web. "If you have something to say, a story to report, a video to share, a slide show to post, music to share, all you have to do is register on bostonnow.com, write your blog, choose what section of the paper it should appear in, and hit the button. Your entry will be delivered to the editor of the appropriate section and considered for publication. No matter what, your posting will be on the Web site for all to share [emphasis added]." Elsewhere, we're told that BostonNOW.com will be self-policed; if a post is deemed "obscene or libelous" by a reader, the staff will either delete it or let it stand. "What we will not do is edit it. The integrity of the blog is essential to presenting the true voice of the blogger." Sounds easy; my guess is that implementation won't be.

--Serialized reader-generated fiction in every issue! "Everyone loves a good story. Especially when it's suspensful and pulls you along from chapter to chapter. We'll give you that suspense daily, with a local author's short story, one chapter a day, starting on Monday and wrapping up on Friday." This I love.

--There's going to be a special, student-generated college section, dubbed CampusNOW. "Even though Boston is one of the world's largest, most vibrant college towns...you'd never know it from reading area newspapers." I'd say that's about right. But in contrast to the serialized fiction (see above), this won't be a good read unless the quality's high.

Bottom line: if BostonNOW can make good on these ambitions, Metro Boston and its corporate parents, the Globe and Metro International, are going to have a nasty fight on their hands.

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