Five years ago Linjun Fan, then a student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, decided to launch Albany Today for the community, a local news site for a town in need of coverage. Soon it won the devotion of town residents with fair coverage and positive neighborhood stories.
Then came graduation day and Linjun turned the site over to long time community member Barbara Grady before heading home to China and starting her new job at Shantou University in southern China, where she teaches journalism and new media.
In many ways Albany Today paved the way for Albany Patch, run by our first editor Emilie Raguso and the town soon embraced Albany Patch too. But they haven't forgotten Albany Today; often commenters will mention stories she did. (Truth be told both Raguso and Fan were my students when I was teaching at the journalism school!)
"When I first got to Albany in June 2010, it was easy to explain the concept of an online-only local news site to many community members because they had come to know and love Albany Today," Raguso said. Linjun really created a niche with her site. Her efforts, and the trust and goodwill she built up during the time she was running her site, made it much easier for us to launch our site with stronger community buy-in from the get-go than we otherwise would have had."
This week Fan has been in Albany making the rounds in her old stomping ground, taking in the special places that make Albany such a warm, welcoming and unique community. Besides presenting a paper on new media in China at a conference at UC Berkeley's Center for East Asia Studies, she talked at the Rotary Club of Albany, stopped by Albany Patch's debate viewing party, took a walk with former Albany Mayor Jewel Okawachi on the waterfront, and hugged a homeless friend at the Albany Bulb.
"Albany has a unique place in my heart. Simply walking on the familiar streets filled me with sweet memories and joy," said Fan, who heads back to China on Monday.