With a bustling birthday bash Friday evening at T’s Place on Lake Street in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities Daily Planet celebrated the fourth anniversary of its official launch on May 1, 2006. The focus, however, was not on the past but on the future, as executive director Jeremy Iggers, editor Mary Turck, and board chair Sheldon Mains announced recent developments and new plans to expand users’ ability to share the news and connect with their neighbors.
People began gathering at 4:30 p.m., reconnecting with old friends, making new acquaintances, and registering as Daily Planet users. At 6:00, Iggers asked for the group’s attention, thanking staff, board members, and writers before introducing Turck, who demonstrated features recently added to the Daily Planet Web site, including:
• New neighborhood pages, which use new geolocation technology developed by Advantage Labs to help users find neighbors, stories, attractions, and events in every individual neighborhood in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
• Expanded user profiles, which now include links to social networking sites, tagged interests to link users to others who share their interests, and links to articles, blog entries, events, and attractions recommended by each user. (Look for the “Recommend” links at the bottom of these pages to highlight items on your profile.)
• A revitalized Planet Cafe page, with a continuously updated Assignment Desk to help writers get started on stories any time.
• Twitter feeds on many pages, listing tweets relating to a story’s topic.
• An iPhone application, to make reading the Daily Planet on the fly easier than ever. The app also features a link that allows users to immediately send photos or video straight to the inbox of the Daily Planet’s editors.
Taking the mic next, Twin Cities Media Alliance board chair Sheldon Mains reminded the crowd that the Daily Planet is a nonprofit, relying on foundation support and individual donations to cover its operating costs. Mains noted that the Media Alliance (the Daily Planet’s parent organization) has recently been awarded a $75,000 matching grant from the Challenge Fund for Journalism—meaning that every donation to the Daily Planet is effectively doubled.
With that, Iggers led the crowd in a round of “Happy Birthday,” and it was time to cut the cake.