In May 2004, former New York Times columnist Debra Galant started a journalism experiment on the web. Its name was Barista of Bloomfield Ave., or Baristanet, and it aimed to deliver local news to a corner of north Jersey in a timely, humorous and hyperlinked fashion. Over the months, Baristanet has fearlessly covered (or started) controversies over Girl Scout cookies, high school yearbooks and $300 colanders and become a daily must-read for media-savvy residents, who now call their neighborhood Baristaville. Baristanet gets about 9,000 visits a day, but its reach goes beyond that. It is considered the leader and gold standard in the “citizen journalism” and “hyperlocal blogging” movements. It has inspired local news sites in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, New Haven and Watertown, Mass.
As Baristanet has grown, Liz George has joined as a partner and managing editor, Tom Biro as technology consultant and Annette Batson as senior writer. Baristanet is supported by more than 30 display advertisers.
I was completely obsessed with Baristanet, a newsblog about three towns in Northern New Jersey. Baristanet was a constant stream of newsbits — but what was really a revelation was the writing: it was funny. Debbie Galant, who I later got to talk to, said, “We differ from the local newspaper in point of view: we have one.”
Lisa Williams in PressThink,
November 14, 2005.