It’s my pleasure on this Christmas Eve to announce my long-awaited holiday gift to you, a feature that’s been on my wish list almost since the beginning of anewscafe.com started five years ago: Photo Cafe.
Photo Cafe launched early this morning. It resides on the right side of the home page. There, you can see a square box that will contain a stream of ever-changing photographs taken and uploaded by a team of citizen photojournalists, each of whom have been “deputized” with individual passwords that gives them special security access. The photos will then appear immediately on the home page.
The Photo Cafe began with our most recent “test image” – a farmers market photo by citizen photojournalist Matt Grigsby. And just for fun, we are leaving up the other test images that we’d posted since late summer as we tried out the technology and uploaded place-holding photos. (These were visable in our Week in Review section, which some of you noticed and commented on from time to time.)
Even in the test photos one can get a sense for the potential range of topics that might appear here: weather shots, city shots, food shots, people shots, airline views. The possibilities are endless.
There’s no schedule, and no moderation by our staff (uh, this is almost unheard of in most online news media, btw). You never know what you will see when you log on. Could be a Lego Santa from Hong Kong by Doug Cushman. Could be a holiday scene from Cottonwood by Erin Friedman. The photos will appear as quickly or as slowly as the photographers post their images. You can click on “more” to see photos that were posted when you weren’t looking.
As with all our posts on A News Cafe, we allow and welcome reader comments at the Photo Cafe. Just click on the photo to enlarge it, which will also allow you to see the comment box.
Imagine how helpful this might be in the case of a photo posted of a public emergency, or a road closure or an accident. Readers can add comments to the photo and include ongoing information.
Speaking of comments, as an aside, I am delighted to report that A News Cafe continues to be a model of civility, and that we rarely find the need to remove a comment. The majority of commenters here use their true names, which is another characteristic that sets A News Cafe so far apart from most online news media sites.
I’ve entrusted the photographers to upload whatever they find interesting enough to share. It might be a rainbow in the distance.
It could be a flock of geese crossing Park Marina Drive or a rock slide on Highway 299.
It might be a Paris Christmas tree or a Portland parade or a baby hummingbird nested in a Red Bluff tree or a Shingletown fire.
Each photograph will include the photographer’s name, and some brief details, such as the date, subject and location. The photos will be as varied as the photographers and their situations and surroundings and observations. Some photos will be more arty, while others will be more newsy. Some may be humorous, and others may be serious.
Case in point is a photo submitted by Photo Cafe photographer Armando Mejorado, who captured a police chase on Hilltop Drive Sunday morning, a day before our Photo Cafe was ready for prime time. Even so, I’ve included his photos with the Redding Police Department press release about that incident.
And that’s the beauty of Photo Cafe: It can document life in real time as it’s captured by the team of citizen photojournalists who upload for our viewing what they’ve seen as they move throughout their days. If they think it’s interesting enough to make them stop, look and feel some emotion, then chances are we will find those photos interesting, too.
I’m counting on that.
What’s more, my hunch is that the Photo Cafe will be one of A News Cafe’s most popular sections.
I’m betting on that.
We will begin Photo Cafe with two dozen citizen photojournalists, and may add more later, after we’ve taken our first Photo Cafe baby steps and are up to speed.
The majority of these photographers will use smart phones to upload photos to the Photo Cafe, but a few will be posting from their computers, the old-fashioned way. (What a world.)
Most of the Photo Cafe photographers live here in Shasta County, but others hail from France (hello, Doug Cushman, who, by the way, is credited with coming up with the section title, Photo Cafe). We also have citizen photojournalists from the Czech Republic (hi, Joe Domke), Portland (hey there, Kelley Forseth), Chico (welcome, Jennifer Jewell), San Francisco (hello, Bethany Chamberlain) and even as close as on my street (hi, Kimberly Ross).
Some photographers may post all the time, while others may post less frequently. Either way is just fine with me.
Who are the Photo Cafe contributors? Well, they encompass a diversity of ages, backgrounds and interests. They represent retired people and working folks, and an impressive variety of occupations: law, medicine, horticulture, journalism, travel, education, architecture, art, military, writing, fitness, health care, mental health, business, technology and social service, to name a sample.
I know you are dying to meet them, so let me introduce you to Photo Cafe’s first citizen photojournalists, a group of talented fellow readers whose photos will inform, inspire, delight, move and amuse you.
Perhaps you’ll recognize a number of names from anewscafe.com bylines, or from their professions or community work. Or maybe they are unknown to you (for now).
Either way, I am proud to say that I can personally vouch for every person on this list. I know them and trust them. I am humbled and honored that they’ve accepted the challenge and responsibility to contribute their photographs to your Photo Cafe.
Please join me in welcoming and thanking the following citzen photojournalists who’ll fill the Photo Cafe with memorable images:
Erin Coombs Friedman
(New photographers added Dec. 31: Leslye Layne Russell, Jonessa Brittan and Rob Simpson.)
Finally, I give special thanks to anewscafe.com’s dynamic tech duo, Jim Gore of Elk Grove and Joe Domke of the Czech Republic, both of whom indulged my long-held desire
and incessant nagging for this section, and did the technical heavy lifting to make it possible.
Welcome, Photo Cafe. We’ll be seeing you.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone. I think it’s going to be good!
Note: I’m already hearing from people who’d like to join the Photo Cafe team in the future. Those readers may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and submit sample photos for our review.
Also, readers who aren’t part of the initial Photo Cafe team, but have photos they would like to include, may email me their photo submissions for possible posting. Please include your full name, your city, the photo subject, date and location.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.