York Town Square

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Yorktownsquare.com post No. 2,500: Keeping the memory of Navy SEAL Neil C. Roberts in public view

The body of Navy SEAL Neil C. Roberts was laid to rest at Prospect Hill Cemetery in 2006, four years after he died in Afghanistan at the hands of al-Qaida. He was the first fighting man with York County ties to die in Middle East fighting, 10 years ago this month. This hero’s story is told in my favorite post among the 2,500 on York Town Square blog. Why? It keeps the memory of a hero in public view. Background posts: WWII in York County, by the numbers and War memorials stand proudly in towns throughout York County and Navy Seal Neil C. Roberts, Part II and Navy Seal Neil C. Roberts, Part III.

This post represents a milestone for this blog, York Town Square.

It’s my 2,500th published post.

This daily dose of local history began in September 2005, when blogging was in its early stages. It was there at the York Daily Record/Sunday News now-huge community blog site, Yorkblog.com.

An early post – York County history and journalism: a perfect overlap – framed the blog’s purpose:

“Often, the work of a writer doing journalism overlaps with that of the researcher doing history.

“It has been said journalists write the first draft of history. As time passes, historians take the long view of that draft, often adding perspective and context.

“A fun part of my job comes when both journalism and history synch up… .
“Such was the case with the York Daily Record/York Sunday News editorial that I wrote Aug. 29. The three topics touched on York County history, and it was rewarding to draw on some facts floating around somewhere in my mind, taken from my own research or both.”

OK, here are some factoids about blogging and York Town Square:

Goal: To provide a daily dose of history, with the purpose of providing a shared experience in York County, a kind of common language to maintain and build community. The blog applies history to journalism and journalism to history, a play on what some call public history.

Posting frequency: I’ve posted daily, usually by 8 a.m.,  almost since the beginning. I’ve blended my writing into my daily routine. When I’m traveling during this morning posting cycle, I write in advance. Something would seem to be out of synch if I didn’t post one morning.

No. of posts: 2,500, which averages a little more than a post a day since yorkblog.com was launched. (This is spread over two blog vendors, so it might be a few more, perhaps a few less.)

No. of pages viewed: About 2 million.

First post: Sept. 18, 2005: York County, Pa., journalism goes back to the future.

A bunch of early posts: September 2005.

Most-view post (estimated): Check out this list of York County’s most notorious criminal cases in past 50 years.

Favorite post: Keeping the memory of Navy SEAL Neil C. Roberts alive, 10 years after his death in Afghanistan. He was the first fighting man with York County ties to die in fighting in 21st-century Middle East wars. (See photo above.)

How blogging has changed: Bloggers now must use social media tools – Facebook and Twitter, etc. – to push out their work and to engage readers.

What is is often misunderstood about blogging: Once a post is put up, the work really begins. You must socialize it, and then engage with the readers who respond. That’s a good thing. I’m friends with people who I’ve never met personally.

A word of thanks: To YDR/YSN Opinion Page Editor Scott Fisher, who has edited this blog from the beginning.

OK, on to next post – 2,501.

Zachary Witman is seen here in this York, Pa., Daily Record/Sunday News file photograph as he is led into the York County Courthouse for sentencing. In 2003, he was convicted of first degree murder in the 1998 slaying of his brother. For a listing of other major court cases involving York County, click here. This photograph is the most popular post on my York Town Square blog. Also of interest: Check out the top 10 York Town Square posts in 2011.

Also of interest:
– Check out York Town Square’s archives, with all posts from the start.

Edited, 3/17/12.