Friday, November 10, 2006

New Kid On the Block: Is BrooWaha The Answer to LA's Newspaper Woes?

Circulation is down at the LAT. The OC Register and the San Diego Union-Tribune are both offering buyouts. The Weekly is in it deep (Jill Stewart is a big news, but has anyone caught on to the fact that they've laid off all the fact checkers?).

What's an LA Newsie to do? Take the news into you own hands, brother.

BrooWaha, an interactive online "citizen newspaper," was recently started up in LA by Israeli/Parisian Ariel Vardi who wanted to "create an unbiased, reliable source of local and global news written by a large community of amateur writers and journalists."

It's rough right now, but we think we see where it's going, and damnit if it doesn't have heart! Maybe there's hope for journalism in this town after all -- even if none of the journalists in town are part of it.

In true citizen newspaper form, Vardi gives FBLA the scoop himself:

Q: What is a "citizen newspaper"?
A: A citizen newspaper is an outlet where everyone can participate and share interesting news found on the web or write original news articles. Certain websites focus on the former (,, etc.) while BrooWaha focuses on the latter.

Q: Oh. Does that mean it's not good?
A: Not necessarily. I have a lot of respect for professional journalists and feel they do high-quality work. However, I do believe that journalism is flawed in the sense that its community is very closed. Who decides what's worth an article in a paper? An incredible number of great stories are never told or they're forgotten because some panel decided not to include them. But who should decide? BrooWaha's premise is that only the readers should. That is why one of BrooWaha's main goals is giving power back to the readers.

In addition to that, professional journalists are often sometimes disconnected from the local scene, and therefore miss many of the little stories that make our cities what they are. This flaw is inherent to professional journalism because there are simply not enough of them; they can't be everywhere at once.

But normal citizens are everywhere and they have the power to tell these important stories. This is yet another of BrooWaha's great strengths.

Q: Where did the idea come from?
A: I got the idea while I was living in Atlanta, finishing my Masters at Georgia Tech. My apartment was right next to some of the hippest clubs in town and several celebrities were frequently spotted hanging out in them. Despite being so close to the heart of the action, I felt very disconnected from what was going on in the city. It would have been interesting to know what went on in the clubs as well as other parts of Atlanta nightlife. And then I wondered where I could find this kind of information. That's how I came up with the idea of BrooWaha and how I started sleeping less and less to work on the project.

Q: You could have gone to the clubs -- the fact that you didn't proves you're a real journalist. Or, are you the next Arianna Huffington?

A: As I understand it, her blog is very politically oriented and she relies on big names and heavy-hitters. Firstly, BrooWaha is not a blog, it's a newspaper, meaning that we publish articles on a variety of different topics and, as stated above, by many different authors. Secondly, a distinction can be made between the people she recruits to write on her blog and the all-access platform that we have on BrooWaha. Lastly, unlike Ariana Huffington, I do not plan to run for governor :) However, if famous people want to write on BrooWaha, herself included, we will not turn them away!

Q: If people essentially "vote" for articles, is this really a social networking site for the blogger-set?

A: Social networking is not one of the main goals of BrooWaha and I took particular care when designing the website to keep it from becoming another vain attempt at reproducing what MySpace is today. If people want to use BrooWaha to meet bloggers, journalists, writers, etc, in addition to interacting with the site as a newspaper, more power to them. However, I don't think it will ever be primarily a social networking site. People will go to BrooWaha to read news articles and learn about Los Angeles and the world. BrooWaha is also a great tool for people to practice their writing and get feedback
on it from other authors and readers. Finally it is a great platform to share ideas, discuss news, and possibly also make friends, enemies, and rethink journalism for the better.

Published in Fishbowl LA on November 3rd 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

Good morning Los Angeles!

The following is BrooWaha's first newsletter!
BrooWaha has been online for about 2 months now and we thought it would be a good idea to give you a little update of what's keeping us busy.

Latest news from BrooWaha:

Traffic to BrooWaha doubled since September:
The traffic to has more than doubled since last month and we are confident that it will keep growing very rapidly in the next couple of months as well. One of our main goals is to give our authors as much exposure as possible and we will continue to work hard in persuance of this goal.

Broowaha is now fully indexed by Google
BrooWaha is fully indexed by Google now. What does it mean for you? The articles you write may now be read by millions of Google users. Just try and type your author name or the title of one of your articles in Google and you'll see for yourself ;-)

BrooWaha cited on other websites
The article "Z for Danielewski" by Epileptic Guinea Pig has been cited in the official website of Only Revolutions, Mark Z. Danielewski's latest book. We hope to see a lot more of your articles cited by major websites in the future!

Print Feature
If you want to show your work to your friends or even potential recruiters, please use our new Print feature located at the bottom right of the articles; it will format the article in a printer-friendly version.

Watch an author
This feature has been available for a while but is overlooked by most users. If you want to be notified by email each time your favorite author writes a new article, all you need to do is go to his/her profile page and click on "Watch this author". It's that easy!

BrooWaha now has an RSS feed that you can find at the bottom of any page of BrooWaha. By subscribing to this feed, you'll be notified each time a new article is published. To use this feature we recommend you download Firefox 2.0.

Spell-Check for your articles
Firefox 2.0 (the recommended browser above) also has a built-in spell check that will help you catch your spelling mistakes before you submit an article to the editor. A great tool for your authoring needs!

Tshirts, hats, mugs, stickers
Go to and support our effort by getting one of our new t-shirts or other merchandise!

Join our Flickr group!

Join our Flickr group at and have your artwork displayed on Broowaha!

Coming Soon to BrooWaha:

Bug fixes
Yes, we are not perfect. But at least we are working on it ;-)

Automatic login
No need to manually log in every time, you will be logged in automatically when you access the website!

Delete draft, cancel pending submission
Caught a spelling mistake in your article after you submitted it to the editor? You will soon be able to cancel your submission and work on your draft some more before it is published.

More statistics
Average article length, number of views and ratings, and how you stand compared to other authors.

Article Requests
Interested in writing something but don't know what to write about? We will soon have a solution for you...

And much more...
But we're keeping it to ourselves for the moment ;-)

How can you help us?

Talk about BrooWaha with everyone you know!
Tell all your friends about BrooWaha and make them sign up!

Post a link to BrooWaha on your blog/myspace
Link BrooWaha on your blog/myspace! Not only does it bring us traffic, but it also improves our rankings in Google which in turn means more exposure for you!

Buy and wear our t-shirts
Show us some love and wear our t-shirts and sweatshirts. They are available from CafePress at

But above all, keep submitting articles!
Keep contributing regularly to BrooWaha Los Angeles, it's definitely the best way to help out!

That's it!

That's it for now! If you have any questions or comments about BrooWaha, please feel free to send us an email at Your feedback is very valuable to us, so please don't hesitate to drop us a line!

Thanks for being part of the revolution,

- BrooWaha Staff