Metropolis is a website dedicated to the notion that the time has come to stop worrying about the future of local journalism and to start creating it.
The need is clear. Local newspapers, TV and radio stations are retreating from in-depth coverage of regional news either due to economic or audience considerations.
The retreat has been gradual, but no one expects it to stop. The company that owns the region's largest newspapers - the Inquirer and Daily News - is in bankruptcy. The size of the editorial staffs at the papers continues to shrink. The prognosis for metro dailies here and elsewhere is not good. The journalism practiced by these papers is still robust, but the economic model that has sustained it is eroding.
If these traditional sources of news falter or fail what will take their place? Will local TV and radio stations fill the gap by hiring additional reporters to do in-depth stories? Will bloggers, known mostly for commenting off the news, begin to cover it? The odds are against this happening.
Democracy is a form of government that rests upon a single adjective: an informed citizenry. How will citizens be informed if the entities that were their major sources of local civic, government and political information diminish or even disappear?
At Metropolis we have no illusions about our limits - we have a small staff and a modest budget -- but we are sure of our mission. We are not in the business of covering breaking news. You won't read about the latest fire here, or the big crime story, or yesterday's news conference at City Hall. You can get that elsewhere.
Instead, we will offer in-depth and investigative pieces, plus smart commentary and analysis. Our exclusive focus will be on the Philadelphia region. We will adhere to the best practices of American journalism: independent, fact-based, verified reporting. We will report without fear or favor. Over time, we will bring to you a multitude of voices and perspectives.
With luck, we will expand our mission eventually to include news and information useful to smaller communities and neighborhoods.
In the future, we also hope to explore the web's potential for storytelling by finding new ways to use graphics, video and text to add meaning and depth to the news. For now, though, Metropolis will be a linear site.
We launch with willingness to experiment and hopes for growth. We surely won't be the answer to the demise of the traditional media, but we do hope to be an answer. We look forward to being along for the ride into the future.
One great and positive change modern technology has brought to journalism is that it has broken down the walls between the providers and consumers of news. We expect and encourage readers to be engaged in our coverage. We need your story ideas, your comments, your column offerings and your tips.
Underlying the thinking behind Metropolis is that this region has an abundance of smart, engaged people who care about the area and its future, whose definition of citizenship includes more than just voting and griping about the status quo.
Through their unselfish acts, through their volunteer work and their political and civic engagement, they contribute in ways that reverberate far beyond their neighborhoods. Collectively, they serve as the soul and conscience of the Philadelphia region. They are its engines of change.
This website is designed to serve these active and aware citizens, people who have a need to know what is happening in the region that affects them, their families, their neighborhoods and their communities.
This is the mission of Metropolis.