The Madness of Neighborhood Chatter

God bless the idea people at the Palm Beach Post. They're trying like crazy to turn the newspaper's website into the county's water cooler, but it's just not working.

Remember Morning Brew? The idea there was to create a blog that was the equivalent of a morning radio show. They put a reporter on it and she spent weeks getting up in the wee hours to start posting about headlines and such. It failed miserably.

For the past several weeks the homepage has been graced with a new effort called "Backyard Chatter." I have to say, this may be one of the laziest attempts to generate web traffic yet. It consists of five threads, broken down by , where people can "sound off" on "things in [their] area." The best (presumably) of the ensuing messages are published in the "Neighborhood Post" section of the printed newspaper.

Brilliant. You get rid of 130 of your finest news people and replace them in part with the idle thoughts of random people.

Shockingly, Backyard Chatter hasn't been much of a hit. After almost two months, there has only been a total of about 150 comments and it reads like a conversation with Mr. Short-Term Memory. Or attending an ADHD support group meeting. Or being trapped against a wall at a party filled with excruciatingly boring people. Here are some real-life examples:

"What’s so amusing about smashing other people’s mailboxes?"

"I’d like to apologize to the person that I angrily honked at one night recently on Homewood Blvd in Delray Beach after you stopped suddenly for what I thought was no apparent reason. I hadn’t realized that you stopped to avoid running over a opossum. I’M SO SORRY!!"

"Hi folks. Does anyone know where to get plain white potato salad?"

"Anyone out there know how I can save my ficus hedges from that white-fly bug?"

"I am getting tired of looking for a parking space at Dunkin’ every morning."

"I can’t stand it anymore. It seems as if the dogs on Jupiter Beach and on the Heart Trail have more rights than you and I do."

"Wow, came here looking for some restaurant recommendations and all I see are complaints."

"Please, if you have to sneeze, could you please step back from the Chinese buffet?"

"The blog is kinda lame — mostly just a bunch of people grousing about their personal pet peeves. Oh, well…"


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