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July 7, 2011 Published in Hash

Coming Home to Alexandria

By Alex Hampl
alexandrianews.org

Alex Hampl is an intern for alexandrianews.org. (Photo: James Cullum)

It’s been a year since I last wrote for alexandrianews.org. I was off at school studying journalism at Northwestern University, and now that I’m back, I appear to be the most senior writer other than Carla, which is a scary thought. Some things haven’t changed – the BRAC center is still the biggest issue in the minds of most Alexandrians – but new projects like the waterfront development have also emerged as things to watch this summer.

I’ve learned a lot covering Alexandria for Carla. She is one of those people who knows everyone in the City, which is pretty useful for this job. She is pretty good at cracking skulls and can almost always get people who have been avoiding us to call right back.

I also learned a lot at school about local journalism. Hyperlocal and community journalism is extremely popular right now, and advertisers want their ads to be seen by specific eyeballs. That’s why many larger corporations have been branching out to reach smaller communities from AOL with its Patch project to newspapers like The Washington Post adding subsections and blogs about nearby cities and suburbs. It has been fascinating for me to work for a hyperlocal site, one that was truly ahead of the curve in local journalism. It has also made me realize the importance of community involvement – alexandrianews is run by Alexandrians which adds a certain dimension to its reporting. We are affected by the issues we report on -- just like our readers -- which I believe pushes us to remain agenda-free and do our best work. It has been interesting to view the rise of community journalism from the inside – working for a local site.

I’m looking forward to another good summer with the site covering the goings on in Alexandria.

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