I like top-level reporting, from the likes of Times and the Guardian and magazine publications. I like reading specific authors for online outlets from Vice to NPR. And yes, I do like the Associated Press. Specifically for journalism from places I don’t track daily. But as each of those services grow in name and offering, they lose one thing: their ground game.

They lose their grassroots, the thing that made them who they were in the first place.

Perfect example is a story from the AP earlier this week that picked up on the buzz of tourists flocking to New York City to attend ‘night court’ sessions in lower Manhattan. A ‘permanent tourist’ for the time-being I’ve been aware of this phenom for some time, and have been meaning to indulge in it myself but from an almost empathic perspective and also curiosity in the way in which a giant megaopolis operates its courts. I have an interest in the city. But I digress.

The AP report is a few years too late. The Times’ City Room blog highlighted the phenom a few – as in 3.5 – years ago, and made a better attempt to highlight its existence, saying,

Laws mandate that those arrested be expediently charged; because of the sheer volume of arrests made in New York City — sometimes 1,000 a day — night court was born.

But the City Room blog isn’t really a blog in the true sense, it’s just a place for off-paper articles to get published. Real blog were years ahead of the curve, with NYC the Blog reporting on the issue in late-2008. Granted the writing is always suspect, not from a credible point of view it’s just a different style to consume (like my run-on sentence just now). Sometimes it doesn’t vibe. But they were there first.

OK OK I’m sure there’s been ‘reporting’ on the issue elsewhere before. I’m sure when “night court was born” there was official reporting on the subject. Sure. That’s kind of a given. But step away from the process of civic courts and the “sheer volume of arrests” of America’s largest city and turn the analysis to your neighborhood, your community centers, and your social circles, and I guarantee you bloggers were there first.

It all percolates from below.