Why Talk of the Sound is the Best Local Website in Westchester -- AND WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE TOTS "BEST IN WESTCHESTER 2014"

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Westchester Magazine is running their annual Best of Westchester event.

2014 Best of Westchester Readers' Ballot

My hope is that our readers will click the link, vote for us, and tell all their friends to vote for us too.

The Best of Westchester contest begins with voting for the "Best" of our county, based on a wide range of categories and culminates with a fabulous event held each year at Glen Island in New Rochelle. Talk of the Sound has covered this event each year for the past few years. The event itself belongs on the "Best of Westchester" list, it's that good.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a new category, "Best Local Web Site". My initial reaction was to shrug because I figured that the "Best of Westchester" is, in large part, about marketing the magazine to advertisers and Talk of the Sound is unlikely to advertise in Westchester Magazine (we would if it were free -- or close to it - but it's not).

This year I looked back to see who won and was surprised. The category appears to only go back to 2012 and while many categories have a "Reader's Pick" and an "Editor's Pick", this category only has a "Reader's Pick". So, your vote REALLY counts.

In 2012, the Reader's pick was Lohud.com.

That surprised me. Setting aside my own views about The Journal News, the rules clearly state "do not vote for national chains" and LoHud.com is part of a national chain. It is part of Gannett Corporation which is a publicly traded company based in Virginia which owns a national chain of newspapers, TV stations and other media outlets including USA TODAY so not what I would really consider local.

In 2013, the Reader's pick was myfarmshare.com.

The site is operated by a local family from Westchester but the website's function is to market organic foods grown on a Connecticut farm to customers throughout the Tri-State area including Manhattan, Brooklyn, as well as Westchester and Fairfield Counties. In other words, the site brokers food from Connecticut to parts of the Tri-State area so not what I would really consider local.

Realizing that Talk of the Sound is not going to spend big advertising dollars and we are hardly a feel-good story like an organic farm, I want to make my case why Talk of the Sound is the BEST LOCAL WEBSITE IN WESTCHESTER.

1. We are locally-based.

I am the Publisher and Managing Editor. I live and work in New Rochelle. I run the site from New Rochelle. All of our contributors are all from New Rochelle. Our readership is almost entirely Westchester County -- New Rochelle, of course, with a large chunk from surrounding towns like Eastchester, Scarsdale, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Pelham and White Plains with the rest sprinkled mostly across Westchester.

2. Our coverage is local.

The vast majority of our reporting is about New Rochelle -- personalities, events, politics and more. The rest is focused on Westchester County, with an eye towards news that impacts New Rochelle residents and a bit on New York State with the same eye towards what news impacts New Rochelleans. Our photos and videos are almost all New Rochelle. We monitor every media outlet connected with New Rochelle, link to every story we can find about New Rochelle and otherwise aim to be a single point of contact for anyone wanting a complete picture of news and information about New Rochelle even if that means linking to our competitors.

3. We are the Best in Westchester at what we do: hyper-local news.

There is no other web site in Westchester that serves its community better than Talk of the Sound. News12 is good but they are a TV station with a web site and owned by Cablevision. Patch is OK but they are part of AOL. We already talked about LoHud.com. There are a number of smaller local web sites out there like The Loop, Scarsdale 10583, MyRye.com, Yonkers Tribune and others doing good work but none at our level, with out traffic numbers and with our proven ability to drive the news cycle.

For more than five years, TOTS has broken hundreds of stories, many of which were picked up by other media -- both county-wide, through the New York Metro media market and, on occasion, nationally and even internationally. When there is a house fire at 4 am, Talk of the Sound is there. A drug arrest on the Hutch where it passes through New Rochelle, Talk of the Sound is there. A crucial vote on City Council, Talk of the Sound is there. We broke the story of the Sister Susie Embezzlement story that went national, the "Girl, Interrupted" book censorship story that went national, the Gadsden Flag story that went national -- and many more.

We put in a great deal of time, effort o integrate social media into the web site and give readers a comprehensive look at their world through a clever-deployment of resources. For much more on this, read these two articles:

Talk of the Sound Social Media Integration

How Talk of the Sound Social Media Integration Actually Works - A Complex Workflow Made Simple Using Social Media, Geolocation, RSS, IFTTT and iPhone Apps

4. We have been a significant force for good in our community.

Our reporting on public corruption in New Rochelle has led to federal, state and county investigations and those investigations have led to arrests. Those who would pillage the local treasury and rob taxpayers fear Talk of the Sound, and with good reason. our reporting on a former DPW official led to a 66-count fraud indictment by the Westchester County DA.. Our reporting on a school administrator sexually abusing a student in his school office led to his arrest by New Rochelle Police and conviction by the DA as a sexual predator. Our reporting on an asbestos exposure incident at a local elementary school led to a still on-going state investigation. Our reporting on the failure of school officials to evacuate two wheel-chair bound students during a fire at New Rochelle High School (along with Ken Valenti at LoHud.com) led to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation. Our reporting on the then-approaching 50th Anniversary of the Lincoln School Desegregation case led to a District-wide celebration of that landmark event. Large and small, residents know that there have been many changes in New Rochelle brought about by reporting first published on Talk of the Sound.

5. We have been the driving force behind greater community involvement in civic decision-making.

Our coverage of the deeply flawed Echo Bay development sparked a grassroots campaign that caught fire and saw dozens of community groups, activists, and many previously inactive residents come together to take on and defeat Forest City/Ratner, one of the most aggressive real estate developers in New York, killing the project and saving the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in the process. Our coverage of the local school board meetings has grown both the audience for and participation in BoE meetings. Our efforts to advocate for greater government transparency has let to initiatives such putting school board meetings and various government meetings for planning, zoning, industrial development and civil service on TV and the web and a dramatic increase in Freedom of Information request and compliance with those requests.

Through our reporting, we have many times raised and framed issues that others later follow to bring about positive change in New Rochelle.

6. We have built a strong trust relationship with our readers.

Talk of the Sound is, by far, the most trusted source for news and information about New Rochelle in New Rochelle. As that trust has grown so has our readership -- 2,000 a day on the web site, another 1,200 a day via email newsletter, another 1,500 a day via social media -- well over 100,000 a month in a City of 77,000. That trust is also manifest in our sources. New Rochelle residents with a story to tell about corruption or wrong-doing in New Rochelle know that Talk of the Sound is the place to go to get a fair, discreet hearing and where vetted stories have the reach and influence to make an impact on the lives of New Rochelle residents.

When you consider that we have done all this with no real budget or marketing and certainly no large institution behind us -- and stayed true to our local roots -- I would say that we can make a very strong case that we are the best local web site in New Rochelle.

I hope you agree.

If you do, please vote: 2014 Best of Westchester Readers' Ballot

And please help spread the word by sharing this article far and wide -- on Facebook, Twitter, Email, Smoke Signals, whatever...

Thanks! And may the best local web site win.

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