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East Village, Lower East Side News Sites Battle for 'Blog of the Year' Award

By Patrick Hedlund | December 7, 2010 5:19pm
Bowery Boogie covered a Chinatown fire last year that earned it a lot of attention from readers.
Bowery Boogie covered a Chinatown fire last year that earned it a lot of attention from readers.
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By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

EAST VILLAGE — A pair of popular local blogs that have become must-reads for downtown denizens will vie for top honors at an online awards ceremony Tuesday.

EV Grieve and Bowery Boogie, which cover the East Village and Lower East Side respectively, were nominated with three other hyper-local sites for the Village Voice's "Best Neighborhood Blog" at the publication's inaugural 2010 Web Awards.

The event will crown winners across more than a dozen categories, including "Best Politics Blog" and "Best Twitterers," but the publicly chosen finalists for the neighborhood blog award shows just how much of an impact the two sites have had below 14th Street.

"Not to sound corny, but I'm really honored to be nominated alongside four great neighborhood blogs," said the anonymous author behind three-year-old EV Grieve, which is a daily read for many in the East Village for its prodigious postings and scoops. "They're all good examples of how bloggers can be smart, eternally curious seekers of information."

EV Grieve recently spoke with the heir to a longtime Polish restaurant for a story on expected changes at the neighborhood favorite.
EV Grieve recently spoke with the heir to a longtime Polish restaurant for a story on expected changes at the neighborhood favorite.
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EV Grieve — whose items range from nuts-and-bolts real estate news to bar/restaurant coverage and missing-pet notices — has managed to captivate both readers and larger news outlets, which frequently link to his pieces.

For example, Grieve broke the news in August that Allen Ginsberg's former East 12th Street apartment had hit the market, and also wrote about a much-stolen street sign dedicated to punk-rocker Joey Ramone on the Bowery before the bigger publications gave it their treatment.

The East Village-based blogger attributes his ability to churn out numerous items per day — while holding a separate full-time job, no less — to his former career as a reporter.

The experience has paid off, as EV Grieve counts anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 page hits a day — a far cry from the five per week he got when first launching.

Despite publications as varied as the New York Times, Gawker, The Real Deal and, of course, DNAinfo, regularly linking to his stories, Grieve has no plans to make the blog a full-time venture or try to collect advertising revenue from the site.

"As for EV Grieve, the site wouldn't work without the participation of so many people sharing comments, opinions, tips and photos," the blogger said. "Their passion for the East Village inspires me every day. For that, I'm very thankful."

Below Houston Street, Bowery Boogie has grown into fully functioning news bureau for founder Elie Perler, a Lower East Side resident who used the lack of hyper-local coverage in his neighborhood as inspiration for the venture.

"There was really no definitive source down here, so I kind of picked up the ball," said Perler, 29, of why he decided to begin blogging two and a half years ago. "I started small time, but I kind of had bigger ambitions."

Fast forward to today, and Bowery Boogie has a staff of about 10 reporting on a semi-regular basis, chronicling everything from breaking news to development updates and the area's constant openings and closings.

Perler cites his blog's real-time coverage last year of a large fire at a Chinatown supermarket as the moment he realized the value of his reporting.

"That's when we knew we had a much larger reach than we had anticipated," he explained of the huge reaction from readers to the coverage, which he said was the first to go live.

Perler declined to disclose his traffic numbers, but acknowledged they are growing every months and said he brings in enough advertisers "to do modest" as a for-profit site.

Like EV Grieve, Bowery Boogie's editorial voice tends to lean toward that of the longtime neighborhood regular rather than the young arriviste, but ultimately its balance of news and entertainment coverage appeals to anyone with familiarity of the Lower East Side.

Perler, who's has been either working or living in the area for a decade and has family roots on the Lower East Side, wants to eventually become the go-to site for everyone in the community.

"We're just hoping to be the main portal for everything happening down in our neck of the woods," he said. "We want to be the destination for that, and we're just going to keep working toward that."

The nominees, including three other finalists based out of Brooklyn, were chosen by write-in votes and the general public. The winner will be chosen by the location-based social-networking site Foursquare.

The first annual Village Voice Web Awards take place Tuesday night at Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette St., at 7 p.m. RSVP is required.