Readers of US local news blog the Portland Communique think the site is so good they have donated enough money to cover the entry fee to this year's Online Journalism Awards.

Coverage of local issues such as Oregon's law on
same-sex marriage
, mayoral elections and town planning has triggered waves of new traffic to site - and this week the readership topped 100,000 for the first time.

"The Portland Communique began as an excuse to force myself to read more about the city that had obviously become my home, by making a commitment to myself to write about it every day," said Christopher Frankonis, founder and editor of the site.

He describes the site as 'amateur journalism and hobbyist reporting', but works by a traditional code of journalistic principles and blog ethics that are published on the site.

Even being shortlisted for an award - in the categories for general excellence and online commentary - would help raise the profile of the site and encourage more funding.

Mr Frankonis has been generously funded by his parents to run the Communique project, but will need to find alternative funding from November this year. The site is likely to rely on reader donations - although this income may only cover around half the running costs - and some local advertising.

"My only concern is that this year the awards organisers have ditched the separate distinctions for affiliated and unaffiliated sites," he told dotJournalism.

"That means in both categories I entered I'm competing against mainstream sites. That's going to create an extra hurdle for Communique."

Mainstream news sites still make crucial mistakes, said Mr Frankonis. Paid-for archives 'break the web' by obstructing links and references within stories and blog entries, and news portals often fail to provide enough context to their stories by linking to other relevant sites.

This is the fifth year of the Online Journalism Awards, run by the Online News Association. The closing date for entries is 5 August and work must have been published online between 1 July 2003 and 30 June 2004.

More news from dotJournalism:
Online awards open

See also:
Portland Communique:
2004 Online Journalism Awards:
Online News Association:

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