Happy New Year. I trust that 2008 will be an annus mirabulus rather than horribulus for you. The-Latest's contributing editor Deborah Hobson used the festive season to draw up a long list of best bloggers for me to decide the winner of the £50 competition prize.
In the running are some excellent writing on subjects ranging from Black women and fake hair to market life in China. There is some good stories about the experiences of people on public transport. Topical subjects covered by bloggers include Sudan's teddy bear named Mohammed, hidden racism in France and why The-Latest's most prolific writer is proud to be a 'blogaholic'.
Once I have a short-list, I will let you know. Suffice it to say that the quality of the entrants has been so high it is going to be a tough call.
I hope you enjoyed the three blogs I wrote about my eventful experiences in Nigeria. Of course, I'm excluded from the competition.
The team at The-Latest have plans for an official launch of the rapidly growing site. We are pleased with the shift in emphasis we have made from news stories to blogs - although we welcome both. In 2008, we will have more input from overseas (most of our members live outside the UK). And we want to put The-Latest on the international news radar with some scoops in words and images.
At the moment, this website is funded solely out of the pockets of the three directors who run it. That needs to change in the next 12 months to make The-Latest commercially viable for you and us. In other words, if we can make money from selling on your contributions to news media outlets you too will make some cash as well as a name for yourself.
We have already spring boarded contributors into jobs and helped build up their portfolios of published work. Now we need to greatly increase membership and hits. It's in your interest to help The-Latest do this by emailing everyone in your address book, telling them about the site and urging them to join up and contribute. And write and submit images regularly yourself.
Let's keep alive a brave effort to break the shackles of the Murdoch-dominated mass media and bring citizen journalism to Britain and beyond.
To all our dedicated contributors, thank-you for sharing the vision and making The-Latest such a vibrant, innovative, unrivalled news portal.