City blog removed from Internet
November 6, 2009
By Tim Pfarr
The city’s award-winning blog — Newcastle 411 — has been removed from the Internet. However, Newcastle officials will own exclusive rights to the blog’s domain name until October 2010.
The blog’s removal comes in the wake of Communications Manager Doug Alder’s resignation announcement Oct. 5.Alder made a final post to Newcastle 411 the same day, thanking members of the community for their kindness and announcing that the comment portion of the blog would be disabled Oct. 9, because the blog would no longer have an administrator. At that time, Alder said that although the comments section would be closed and no new posts would be made, Newcastle 411 would remain online.
On Oct. 19, Alder said city officials were in the process of removing the site because of its lack of new content.
“To have it sit there and be paid for is kind of a waste of money,” Alder said.
He also noted that the city still has the option of relaunching the blog as long as it owns rights to the domain name.
Newcastle 411 was created in early October 2008, shortly after Alder began working as the city’s communication manager. Alder said that although the blog is no longer online, the city has archived its content — including comments. The content is available to members of the public via public records requests.
In June, the blog won an award from the Association of Washington Cities for municipal excellence in the category of community service and outreach.
Web host Laughing Squid hosted Newcastle 411, and it cost the city $12 per month to keep the site live. The city purchased the domain name for about $20 when it launched the blog, and the purchase gave the city rights to the domain name for two years.
When the domain name expires in October 2010, the city manager or the City Council will decide whether city officials should renew the blog’s domain name. Alder recommends the city renew the domain name when it expires because renewal is cheap and would allow officials to relaunch the blog if they wish to.
Councilman Steve Buri said he is disappointed by the blog’s removal.
“I’m disappointed because it was a great community resource,” he said.
Buri said he hopes city officials can somehow find a way to maintain communication with residents.
Mayor Ben Varon said he is saddened by the loss of the blog, as it was incredibly valuable for Newcastle residents.
“During the winter of last year, it was an essential tool for the community to know exactly what was going on,” he said.