They served their community well with a lively forum for news and discussion. They were innovative, shifting their product from a website to a Facebook-only community. They were a delight to work with as one of the first members of the TBD Community Network.
And they’ve decided it is time for them to move on. In a joint announcement on their Facebook page, Brad and Cindy this morning said:
The simple fact is that it takes a great deal of energy and time to support the online community in the way we feel it deserves. We do not make money off of Rockville Central, and never intended to. It is a labor of love and devotion to Our Fair City. We don’t feel we can devote the kind of energy it deserves and so, rather than let it whither, we decided to make a clean end.
People enter and leave digital journalism for a variety of reasons. Though Brad and Cindy were certainly engaged in journalism, Brad was always clear that he didn’t see himself as a journalist. He was a community activist, committed to making Rockville a better place to live, and his interest in launching Rockville Central was to provide a place for the community to learn about, discuss and promote community events, issues and life.
When I was in charge of community engagement for TBD, Brad and Cindy were early to join our network. The contributed quality content and candid feedback. Brad was one of the first network members to report by Skype on TBD TV, our cable news channel, reporting on stormy weather from his living room, with darkened skies out the window behind him.
They received some national attention earlier this year when they moved their whole operation to Facebook, saying their community seemed stronger there than on the blog. They remain pleased with that move:
We view our move to Facebook as having been successful. We have appreciated the members of our community posting photos, questions and links on Rockville Central and seeing other people respond. We’ve also been pleased to have first-hand news accounts from the people with their cell phones. Our active users have increased by over 500%. We’ve gone from about 24,000 hits a month on the website to 100,000 post views a month on Facebook. A single post on Facebook typically gets over 2,000 views.
I salute Brad and Cindy for serving their community well and for serving journalism well, even if that was never the idea. They will do well in whatever lies ahead.
Update: On Facebook, Dennis Tuttle asked, “Did the Rockville Patch have any influence on their decision?” Brad answered, “It did not.”