About 10 years ago the Mail Tribune had a website called RogueCurrent. I really miss it, and I have no idea why you don’t have it anymore or how to get it back. I’d be happy to pay for it, although I remember it was free with my subscription. I remember there were templates for a web page, you could add friends and send messages, you could put photos and videos. There was even an RSS feed on it. I’d be happy to get it back.
— Tracy J., by phone
It’s no longer a live link, but you’re far from the only one who remembers RogueCurrent, Tracy.
RogueCurrent members were free to post blogs, photos and videos, message other members, and “join discussion groups about everything from movies to history, pets to farmers’ markets, from coffee to smoking,” according to excerpts from the spring 2009 edition of Our Valley, which carried the theme of “Our Virtual Valley.
Our records show that for about a year from early 2009 there was a strong push for RogueCurrent – with a sister site for Ashland Tidings called ConnectAshland.
The sites were an attempt to create an online community for Mail Tribune readers, like a local version of Facebook, but long before the social media company became the gorilla it is today.
According to our records, there was a local history group, a gluten-free group, and a Rogue Valley resident living in Qingdao, China who used the site to stay in touch with friends and family.
The push died down at the end of the year. The site was used to host a photo gallery for a fun run in October 2009, then was never mentioned again.
Why did a newspaper want its own social media site? Well, telling the story of RogueCurrent, it’s worth noting that the Mail Tribune has changed ownership twice since 2009.
At the time, Southern Oregon newspapers were just a small slice of Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp media empire, and the idea of a local social network seemed to make a lot of sense to people who were making a lot of money. NewsCorp had bought MySpace a few years earlier in what is now known as a $580 million blunder.
These previous owners believed that if people used our platform to post their photos and blogs, it would give newspapers a steady stream of things they could post to our pages. For some reason, however, it never quite worked out.
As your query illustrates, RogueCurrent clearly had fans, and it gave locals a new tool to interact with in an era before Facebook reached critical mass.
As for RogueCurrent’s return, we’d never say never, but it would take more than one avid user to pull RogueCurrent out of mothballs.
Send your questions to “Since You Asked”, Mail Tribune Newsroom, PO Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or email [email protected]