A couple of weeks ago, a few of us sat down with Baltimore Sun Today Editor Andrew Ratner for about an hour-and-a-half. A Harford County resident himself, Ratner had been following The Dagger for some time and was interested in writing a story about us.
That story was published today in The Sun:
Local Web site The Dagger takes a fresh stab at journalism – Site hits the spot and hits a nerve with community it covers in Harford County
“The Dagger, a local news Web site, doesn’t do newspaper writing and reporting (or you could say newspapering) the way it is taught in journalism school. But it may be a glimpse into the way news will be covered in the future.”
The story continues with some interesting quotes from former Aberdeen Mayor Fred Simmons – “They also have people embedded in those places, and some of them write under other names;” Sen. Barry Glassman – “If you’re on the school board, I can see where you’d suddenly think The Dagger has got your number, but they’re as balanced as anything, at least on the reporting;” and School Board member Mark Wolkow – “I don’t think you have to go much further than the title of the [Web site] to figure out the intent.”
Ratner seems to gloss over The Dagger’s reach, “The Dagger’s following may be deep, but it’s not wide…,” but was able to include some amusing anecdotes in his story, including this gem:
“Simmons, who was known to raise some eyebrows as Aberdeen’s “gun-toting” mayor himself, said even he was taken aback by a photo on the site a year ago of Goodman bearing a shoulder-to-shoulder tattoo of “The Dagger” logo. “God help him,” he said, “if they ever change the name.”
Goodman said he did get his arms tattooed with daggers, inspired by the Web site. But he said he photoshopped the image of the logo across his back and posted it as a joke.
“Sorry to disappoint,” said Goodman, a self-described admirer of “gonzo journalist” Hunter Thompson, “but I’m not that crazy. Yet.”
Of course, here’s my favorite part:
“Goodman doesn’t know, or seem to care, where his Web creation will lead.”
Just read Ratner piece in the Sun. Can’t decide if he’s praising you, or saying “look, a cute little subversive website. Isn’t that precious.”
Especially enjoyed hearing from Fred again.
T-Shirts would be a great idea. I’m an XL!
I really wish he didn’t use the quantcast numbers I gave him, especially since we only started having them track us a month, but oh well… I can probably show stats saying we get 20 times more traffic than we really do, thanks to some of the code I use and the lack of efficiency of some server-based stats packages.
Overall, I think it was a good and fair article. Of course, we here at the dagger have known about the Sun’s new venture into online Harford news ever since they put a blank website up on an obvious domain about a year ago. Funny thing is this story was run just went their site goes “semi-live”… Forgive me if I don’t link to it in this comment.
Just wanted to thank Former Mayor Simmons, Delegate Glassman and Mr. Woklow for providing comments to the Sun.
Daggerpress hats and T-shirts may be more lucrative than revenue from advertising!
I’d like to thank Del. B. Dan Riley’s iconic hat and beard for appearing in the Sun photo.
I like the imagery of having people “embedded” who report for you. I pictured Matt riding shotgun with an Armored Division, attending City Council meetings.
Delegate B. Dan Riley says
Got an email from a constituent saying I was in the Sun paper. Not being egotisic I frantically searched for an issue. Thank you Dagger. My t-shirt size is XXL
Lord almighty. Larry The Commentor might be on to something: ‘Daggerpress hats and T-shirts may be more lucrative than revenue from advertising!’ Steve should’ve been called out more for his brain-power: ‘It’s designed better than most, too, in terms of taking advantage of the interplay of the Internet.’ I like the article. What fun would it be if Ratns had just thrown us a boquet? His slightly snotty, real-newspaper-guy tone is perfect.
Bonus: Hunter S. Thompson and the fake tattoo.
‘It’s designed better than most, too, in terms of taking advantage of the interplay of the Internet.’
What does this mean? “Interplay of the Internet”. Can one of you ex/neo/gonzo-journalists explain this to me? Is he talking about the tubes?
vietnam vet says
Subversive web site I like that. welcome ATFE etc. apparently’ the sun paper is delivered by the same people who deliver the AEGIS it wind’s up in the ditch or where ever.
If get’s any smaller. there will be one word on a page. I think it’s safe to say the Dagger has proved it’s point.it can compete with the Big Boy’s
Funny full-disclosure story:
Sun photographer Ken Lam called me about 30 minutes before the interview and asked if one of us could bring a laptop that we could be photographed using for the story.
Great idea, but none of us who were participating the interview had access to a laptop.
So Cindy and I show up for the interview with Ratner and all is going well until Lam shows up and asks where our laptop is. Whoops.
We look around the coffee shop and quickly find an unassuming gentleman enjoying his coffee while typing away at his laptop.
Lam and Cindy were quickly dispatched to disarm the guy and see if we could commandeer his computer for the photo shoot.
He had no problem with it. In fact, after talking to us, he became quite a fan of the site and, as a photographer himself, asked if he could contribute to The Dagger.
Punchline: The guy is a photo stringer for The Aegis.
I LOVE THE TUBES! “She’s a Beauty?” “White Punks on Dope?” Fahgettaboutit!
What? Not those tubes?
“Interplay of the Internet” sounds more like a Radiohead title anyway.
I write this as the proud mother of Brian, he of the tattooed arms and internet interplay. You guys all do a great job and I’m not in the least bit surprised that this site is as successful as it is. You are well-established now and the Sun will have to play catch-up with you guys if it hopes to compete. The Aegis? We all know it’s only read for the obits. Keep up the good work and if you decide to do hats & t-shirts, I’ll sell them on ebay for you!
HIRAM LODGEPOLE says
it’s all about freedom…and freedom sometimes doesn’t know which road it’s taking…and that’s what makes it real and true…
all you sonsabitches have to keep this in mind…there is a choice you have to make in everything you do…and you must always keep in mind the choice you make, makes you.
Looooved Bri’s ‘punchline’ about the Aegis photographer 😉
Tech writing that pays well @ APG is one thing, but the ‘theatre’ of REALLY writing, and writing well for The Dagger is much more admired and appreciated. I am a huge fan and thoroughly enjoyed The Sun article. If ever “my heart skips a beat” when I hear big news, I’ll be sure to call Brian Goodman….. I’m his #1 fan! LET’S GET THOSE T-SHIRTS printed…..I’ll market them for you xo, 😉
Lets have a Sun funeral….
The truth of the matter is …they both fear and loath the Dagger, an interloper on their sacred turf.
Can you imagine what would happen if the Dagger did more hard reporting…the sun would go into septic shock and fall down.
Maybe its time for a Balt city section in the Dagger…outreach to someone who wants to contribute on the Baltimore news beat…in journalistic standards….just to fulfill their prophecy.
Ill bet the sun guys got a tounge lashing over the “B” site…now defunkt!
vietnam vet says
Good to see you back RichieC. your and old timer & supporter of the Dagger they have allowed us to voice our opinion’s’ with little or no editing. you won’t find that in the aegis or sun.
Way to Go Dagger.
The Baltimore Sunpapers have been declining rapidly especially since they abandoned Harford County once again after promises to never drop us. It doesn’t take much time to breeze through it now. But then there was The Dagger Press article this morning, so that was a good thing. Gonzo journalism? No, but a wicked sense of humor does shine through. Keep it up.
Brian Young says
Ratner, feel free to comment here and join in the discussion. Good job with the article– good thing about the Dagger is that now you can post all the stuff you had to cut out of the story!
a rabid reader... says
I was pleased to see the article in the morning Sun. I have been a Sun subscriber for so long now, I should own stock…I can attest to its dwindling numbers and size …to be honest not sure why I still subscribe…hmmm. However I do think they were smart to do the article about the dagger, so maybe there’s hope.
We all know the web is the place for news and blogging helps keep all of us in the know!! Thank you Dagger for being on the cutting edge and also putting yourself out there by providing great stories and facts. Harford County is better because of it. In fact I loved the posting by the Baltimore City person who said this is what they need!
Do you know if any realtors offer this site in their handouts to new Harford County Homeowners as a resource for local news? If I am considering moving here from out of state (ie BRAC)…I would love this site. I keep telling folks/neighbors about it! Keep up the good work. The Sun article hopefully enlightened a lot of new readers, I’d be curious to know if your “hit numbers” changes.
Uncut stories! Behind the scene stuff. THAT’S the good stuff. We, The People, need to know the real behind-the-scene-stories, not what the bigass networks bullshit us about.
ps – Erin Redmond would like to report from BCity -on the street candid interviews, political or otherwise.
Dear ‘Rabid Reader’: Lookin’ for a cool realtor? I HIGHLY recommend TOM TRAFTON of Long & Foster, knows the BRAC area like the back of his hand. His email address: FHSAPES@yahoo.com. Lots o fine homes in this part of town…good luck 😉
I didn’t mean anything to come off condescendingly. I admire the site, and told Brian and Cindy that. By “interplay” I meant the site seems able to use the two-way nature of the Internet more effectively than many others. There’s a great appetite for local news in Harford — it will probably only grow with BRAC — and The Dagger’s tapping that. The more that people know what’s going on in their community, the better. … That said, the Dagger doesn’t try to be, or need to be, a full service newspaper. It can pick its spots and its issues. If the county did not have the Aegis, a part-time news web site alone wouldn’t suffice.
One point about the numbers of site visitors, etc., reported in the Sun piece:
I’m not sure it was clear enough that those numbers were obtained with zero true advertising. To the extent the Dagger has earned readers, it’s been word of mouth and Brian’s hoodie. That’s an important bit of context.
As Andy points out, there’s a lot of news appetite in Harford, and the Dagger’s expansion with no traditional outreach proves that.
Andy- Good to see you here! I really did enjoy the piece. I still say “Internet Interplay” would make a great Radiohead album.
We have debated a great many topics here, like slots, gay marriage, and evolution, and, although nobody has ever presented an argument that has swayed my opinion (’cause I’m an obstinate bastard), I appreciate the fact that here is a place where local folks talk about local things. Local pols weigh in (thanks Delegate Dan!), and, at the end of the day, I know there’ll be another topic to chew on tomorrow.
They even let me write a piece once, so I can add “published author and raconteur” to my resume.
Here’s another reason I shouldn’t have used quantcast numbers as a reference point, especially in regards to the 3% of visitors drive 50% of traffic figure in the article…
This is from today. What it means is the 2% of our traffic comes from “addicts”, or people that come to the site over 30 times a month. 38% comes from “regulars”, who come to the site more than 1 time and less than 30. Everybody else is considered “passers-by”. (We still love you!)
Problem with this chart is that quantcast has only been measuring us for a little over a month, so the percentages are bound to be skewed.
According to Google Analytics, which has been tracking us for over a year, in the past month (Feb 21-Mar 23), The Dagger has had 4,688 Absolute Unique Visitors. 16% of those visitors have visited the site over 200 times.
bob chance says
its about time. i am very glad andy did this story. brian is perceptive, the ecowatchdog for the watershed and brings up to date, free, balanced news i wouldnt get otherwise. His literary production will not end for a long time.
See? Told you Steve’s the man.
The Dagger’s blowing up! Yay! Keep up the good work, and let us HAVE it…….straight. 😉
rabid reader says
Janice thanks for the tip…I was speaking hypothetically as I already live here in HC, but I think it would be helpful if realtors recommended this site as they do where to eat, what newspapers to subscribe to etc. Regardless thanks for the information and I will keep it in mind.
We never could have done this 10 years ago!
vietnam vet says
I noticed the Honorable Dan Riley. is still presenting his self on the Dagger where the issue’s, go from mild to wild. but it’s his Hat that is in question. I wonder if his temperment Match’s his Hat?
In vietnam A hat like that was popular. known as a soft cover. could only be worn in the mountain’s not likely to come under Rocket or mortar attack’s of which said Hat offered very little protection for the Grey Matter.
A man that wore that style of Hat. was a man to reckon with. A man that would tell the powers that be it’s time to go to H-ll.
Dave Yensan says
Sorry I couldn’t see the piece in the Sun. I stopped reading it about one year ago and only get the Washington Times. Brian and Matt were always a force to be reckoned with but the two of them will stick in my mind as the really fun part of having served under the watchful eye of the press. They are fair and far too bright to be stuck with the Aegis.
Mabye they will offer a buy out for a gew million?
Make that a “FEW MILLION”….
GO DAGGER! Hats, teeshirts, mouse pads, underwear, socks…lets get the revenue built!!! LOL
I’m not overly narcissistic…but I like that idea!
Go Dagger !
tommy boy says
Brian and collegues,
News now spins its axis at the click of a mouse and not a turn of the printing press. I had always hoped my friends at my old stomping grounds of the Aegis spent more time making its website more accessible and easy to navigate. The way of online paid subscriptions deters new readers like a cold hand on a lover’s back. I love the folks at the paper and I loved my years working with great writers like Kimber Vought, but with their recent cutbacks and buyouts, its obvious The Sun and its parent company cant seem to sustain the wait upon its long arms to keep the local paper afloat for much longer…I feel like the executive editor Ted Hendricks did a good job with the hand he was dealt and I know Brian saw at least some of his time learning the ropes there as favorable at times…
I hope that as the days of the newspaper and its resulting black fingertips die, websites can continue to acurately spread the news and be a voice…While my friends at the Aegis may argue the point, Brian and his team were ahead of the curve with online news and the ability to bounce ideas across the county in seconds…A vision my old paper could have embraced and most definately should have, but while I was there, the internet was an 11:45 p.m. afterthought.
And while we wonder what condition our world will be in for our children, I just remind myself how big the carbon footprint of those big presses and tons of paper, and gallons of ink, and polluting delivery trucks have created and how eco-friendly the web is – and all the while how instantly gratifying it is to get my news with a few simple clicks…While I may not always agree with the views of Dagger Press, or your diplomacy, I salute your intentionally different style of writing.
My only hope now is for your ultimate success and the ability to grow beyond HCC wire clips for sports, and maybe add a robust photo gallery, while keeping to the edgy e-style you have come to embrace…
Sinne Cal says
Loved the Sun article and loved the Wolkow quote about him not reading the Dagger because it is all opinion. Sooooo….that just confirms that at least one school board member doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.
And realtors would never send this site out because it doesn’t make Harford County sound too good.
My back story is about the photo.
Brian and I had to hold those poses for an unnatural length of time while the photographer who was hunched behind the laptop in the shot, tried to “catch” the Dan Riley/Robo Call story as it scrolled on our main page. At the same time he had to make sure Brian and I weren’t twitching or doing some other un-photogenic thing so he could get a useable photo.
It was no big deal, just a little uncomfortable for us (and worse for Ken, the photographer) until my next door neighbor walked into the coffee shop where the 3 of us were hunching and “catching” and posing without twitching, and I was sure she would notice. We were a little hard to miss.
I was thinking how I could have some fun coming up with oddball explanations when she came over and asked what the heck I was up to. But I guess she never saw me because she never asked.
I do want to correct one item in the story. I didn’t pressure HCPS to release school-by-school data on the AP tests. HCPS was very forthcoming with that information.
The problem was the data was not useful in understanding what % of our high school grads passed at least one AP Exam sometime during their high school years. That was the data I pressed for. HCPS didn’t have it, but it has been promised for next year.
The interview question that stumped me was who Andy could call in HCPS to comment about The Dagger. At the time, I couldn’t think of anyone who would talk (on the record) although when Andy suggested Mark Wolkow I thought Mark might take the opportunity to have his say.
Since the interview, I’ve thought of the many people inside HCPS who understand that I am an advocate and that my stories are intended as a catalyst to improve our public schools, not to attack the system. I have also chosen not to write about certain things when it would serve no purpose other than to embarrass people inside HCPS.
Substantive debate often leads to improvement. Understanding that, anyone who is working toward what they believe is in the best interest of the students and who doesn’t lie to get what they want, has nothing to fear from me.
That said, I appreciate Andy writing the story. I realize the writers and readers on The Dagger are not easily labeled and we operate in an evolving field. I think Andy was fair and I appreciate his interest in The Dagger.
i just moved into the area last July and had no idea you guys existed until the Sun article (any marketing besides word of mouth?). I am interested in local news but didn’t feel like shelling out the $33 bucks and killing trees just so I could read the obits and read lots of advertisements,
the internet has democratized the news and you guys are the early adapters – we are “tribalizing” and “niching” so the “interplay” on the internet is interesting and interconnects nicely with your local community – get small so the big boys can’t compete with you
the paper news is dieing – will soon be dead – Sony e.readers and Kindles can bring subscriptions inside so we don’t have to go look for the paper thing in our skivvies. and if you don’t want to buy, there are plenty of free (and good) sites that carry all the national and international news I need and sites like yours to bring the local news. and paper news is old news by the time it rolls off the press, first tv and now the internet beat them to the punch just because of the medium
rabid reader says
I say it again…we need to get the realtors to have it listed for “getting you local news”
along with the Aegis.
And I disagree that the site does not favor Harford County-in fact I think it demonstrates an involved and concerned demographic. Great articles about the school system and you can get your “neighbors” input for free. All valuable information and timely…And lets not forget the job listings..need I go on??
When someone types “Harford County Public Schools” into Google, there needs to be a link to Dagger Press. That doesn’t happen now, although there is plenty of HCPS info here. That would help others to find this site.
Harford County Public Schools websites need to be like the Dagger. They Never have news of the school system like you see here on Dagger. It seems like they have so much to hide! I mean they are the front end of BOE news but yet, they are letting the Dagger stick it to them. GO DAGGER!!!
Baltimore Sun won’t last long once other Maryland counties catch on to the future…