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Geoffrey Gevalt

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ggevalt - Sat, 02/09/2008 - 12:10am
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United States of America
Young Writers Project

Run Vermont-based non-profit, Young Writers Project, Inc. Web site:
Award winning writer and editor; in journalism, mostly daily newspapers, for 33 years. A former juror of Pulitzer Prizes
Connections with the Web has been a long one: In 1995, led group that started, at the time the 13th newspaper Web site in America; focused content on the Cleveland Indians (winning for first time in 41 years) and then Cleveland Browns (fleeing Cleveland) as pilot sites. No major league baseball sites at time so site got 24,000 hits an hour during World Series. Site was housed on server of a start-up called America Online. Primary advertiser was Warner Cable. Hmmm….

In fall of 2006 jumped off a cliff and started as a nonprofit. This organization engages students to write, helps them improve and publishes their best work on the site, in five daily newspapers, on radio and TV and on stage. We have lots of “publishing” partners.

Site is a home-built as it were. I was turned onto Drupal by an academic in New Zealand who happened upon the project. We’ve gone through many crises and many rebuilds and have been indebted to the Drupal community for help. We now have about 2,100 users, 15,000 visits a month, 50-150 new pieces and upwards of 200-300 new coments a day.

Young writers have created a safe, respectful community on the site. Amazing to see what they are doing and how they are doing it. We are branching into podcasting, blogging on the news (off RSS feeds from news sources onto the site), forums and soon author “chats.”

We also have been using Drupal for several closed Web sites designed for after-school groups and schools. The results in all of these efforts has been the same: Kids write more, they learn from each other and they seem to have fun doing “socialized” writing instead of being confined to a scary, solitary exercise — writing.

We are raising additional money for full-time Web person and full-time content/outreach to take what we’re doing to the next level.

Being self-taught I have huge gaps in my knowledge; would love to learn more and look forward to meeting folks in Boston.

geoff gevalt