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Blade starts local news site for 2nd community

ourtown-perrysburg

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The Blade is adding a second local news Web site as it targets deeper coverage of Toledo's suburban population.

OurTownPerrysburg.com will cover daily happenings in Perrysburg and Perrysburg Township. Like OurTownSylvania.com, which The Blade launched in December, OurTownPerrysburg will give readers a chance to put their own words and photos on the site.

"We really want reader-submitted photos and events," said Kurt Franck, The Blade's executive editor. "There's an opportunity for a community like Perrysburg and Perrysburg Township to get their information out there on a daily basis, and there's no better way to do it than this site."

The official launch date is Tuesday, though the site has been online for a few days as staff members work out any bugs ahead of the full scale unveiling.

Reporter Gabrielle Russon will head up coverage for OurTownPerrysburg. Ms. Russon already writes about the Perrysburg area for The Blade and will continue to cover news, meetings, and other events. Readers will be able to supplement that by submitting their own stories and photos of things such as sports tournaments, business profiles, and school events. User-submitted content will be reviewed by Blade staff before being posted to the site.

"I think this is the future of news organizations to really get deep into local coverage," Mr. Franck said. "We can do this so quickly and so well on the Web if we get everybody involved."

The Blade recently hosted a breakfast to introduce the community to the site and explain its potential. Mr. Franck said The Blade's switch to Facebook commenting has made it a little easier for the community to interact with the site and should help drive more user-submitted content.

A similar breakfast will be held soon in Sylvania for OurTownSylvania, as The Blade works to grow that site and add more user-generated content.

OurTownSylvania has also hired a new reporter.

Kelly McLendon, who holds a bachelor's degree in public affairs and a journalism minor from Indiana University, joined The Blade last month.

Joseph H. Zerbey IV, president and general manager of The Blade, said the company will aggressively try to increase user-generated content, but it won't ever become a replacement for trained journalists.

"I firmly believe that's a big part of the future of journalism," Mr. Zerbey said. "It in no way replaces or even emulates regular news coverage. That will be there. You don't replace that. The hard and soft news written by professional journalists is what we do and that's the focus.

"This is an addendum, and just another way to get eyeballs to the Web sites and to reach out to our readers."

He said the Web sites have been well-received in the communities, and officials are seeing strong interest from advertisers.

Mr. Zerbey said company officials are looking at other areas in the region for future projects.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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