Home > JOUR363 > Andrew Huff talks about Gapers Block and the future of journalism

Andrew Huff talks about Gapers Block and the future of journalism

Andrew Huff of Gapers Block, a Chicago-centric blog site providing information on news and events around the city, told DePaul University journalism students on Wednesday that “print is dead.”

Founded in April 2003, Gapers Block takes it name from a Chicago term referring to the slowdown in traffic caused by people stopping to look around.

Andrew Huff (Photo by Mike Reilley)

Gapers Block is the brainchild of Huff, a former PR rep who holds a journalism degree from Ohio State, and a few other Chicago bloggers.

Huff’s blogging career began in 2001 when he decided to transform an e-mail newsletter he used to send to family and friends into a blog. Blogging was still relatively new when he began, with only about “tens of thousands [of blogs] at the time,” according to Huff.

Huff soon created his own domain name, me3dia. It was through me3dia that Huff got to know other bloggers in Chicago.

“Early on, you had to jump from blog to blog to find [Chicago] info because nothing was really centralized,” Huff said.

The idea then came to create the first city blog in Chicago, based on the success of such blogs in San Francisco and New York:

In the few years since its incorporation, Gapers Block quickly caught on: the original staff of 14 volunteer bloggers jumped to 80.

Huff also received attention because of Gapers Block. American Express hired Huff to write and edit two blogs about entertainment and nightlife in Chicago that accepts American Express and/ or cash.

But probably the best attention came in November 2009.

Gapers Block was one of 12 organizations to receive a $35,000 grant from the Chicago Community Trust for original/ local reporting.

Huff continues to post and edit on Gapers Block, and recently started a new project this year called 1954, a blog featuring an open diary from his senior year of high school.

But the key to all online media, especially news, Huff said, is originality.

“Right now, everybody just uses the same AP wire story, so every media outlet is basically the same,” Huff said. “Ideally, in the future, everyone will just link to the original, local story, keeping content fresh and Web traffic high.”

As media expert and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine told Huff at a recent panel they attended, “Write what you know, link to the rest.” If Huff has his way, Jarvis’ statement will become the norm.

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