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Looky what this Internet can do 

The Rocky Mountain media landscape threatens to get a lot more interesting with the appearance of www.newwest.net, a tech-savvy online magazine that wants to cover the region's politics, economy, and culture. NewWest's early incarnation makes several intriguing promises:

1. In-depth reporting. I've long longed for a regional equivalent to the Atlantic Monthly, and this is the closest I've seen in years. Daily newspapers too often lack the longer perspective, and High Country News can't cover it all.

2. Online community. NewWest claims to want to bring in bloggers and correspondents, and it has comment boxes on every story. This approach doesn't always work, but my experience with Streetmail suggests that when it does, it can build strong loyalty.

3. Internet distribution, blah blah blah. We've heard about the advantages of going paperless and online for ten years now, but NewWest is launching just as the ad revenues appear to be catching up to at least ten percent of the hype.

One of my fears is that it appears to threaten Headwaters News, the meta-journalism site whose headline feed I happily include in the left column here every day. Headwaters, while not flashy, is a policy geek's dream. As a nonprofit, it gains sentimental-favorite status among some. But I have to admit: the Headwaters format has changed little in over five years (that's 35 years in Internet-dog time), and this format is not just a competitor but a leapfrog. Plus they seem to share that sentiment, with a public plug for their potential rival.

Another fear is the whole "New West" notion, but that's a subject for another post or twelve. (Though it did prompt me to go look up my previous thoughts here.)

But those are minor quibbles. Any publication that's willing to notice, report on, and debate new ski areas is certainly worth watching.

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