Some sad news: The BBC Manchester blog is no more. The experiment has run its course, and creators Richard Fair and Robin Hamman are bowing out.
You have to hand it to them - okay, I became involved with it, so I'm not totally impartial here - but they did good. In fact, I was initially very suspicious of the project. So many other instances of traditional media trying to "do" blogging result in tin-eared, unreadable sites that have all the easy authenticity of Michael Howard in a metallic hoodie. Or they expect bloggers who already have an established audience online to fall all over themselves to write for their media outlet just for the sheer privilege of it, and seem gobsmacked when they don't.
But Robin and Richard, from the first, demonstrated their willingness to engage with the existing community of Manchester bloggers on equal terms, and use the BBC's broad reach to make the medium increasingly accessible, welcoming many Mancunians new (and old) to blogging with workshops, radio spots and generous linking. They showed that blogging can be a very effective way for established media to incorporate new voices into their output - and that local people who are not necessarily members of the media elite can contribute really worthwhile and fresh content about their city (even if it isn't news-led; even if, in fact, it is totally random.)
I'm sorry to see the experiment end, but I understand it couldn't go on forever - these two guys are pretty busy. I'm frankly amazed they were able to keep the blog active and interesting for as long as they did, given the number of other things they both have to do. Still, the UK landscape has changed so drastically in since the blog started in 2006 - big newspapers and media companies seem to be getting a bit more of a handle on this blogging thing, and local microsites, citizen journalism and community-led content are the buzzwords of the day. The BBC Manchester Blog was certainly at the forefront of this trend.