I hate to bicker with someone who’s obviously on the good guys’ team, but I also find that being clear, and only as clear as the facts allow, is an pretty full-on insatiable desire of mine.
And thus I submit that using a term like “intimacy” doesn’t work as a term to describe what geography-based community news sites need to work or what they need to aim to achieve. I further submit that this isn’t just an academic exercise. It matters because folks into the future of news have a tough enough time relating the importance of what we’re talking about. It’s easy for curmudgeons to brush off “intimacy” because it rings of hype to them; it fits neatly into their mindset of techno-utopians offering false promises.
I’m not nit-picking words here, either, or being uncharitable. I don’t take intimacy to mean something super deep or profound like love or friendship or piety. Following @lisawilliams, I take it to mean something like the what the members of an Elks lodge share. They all know one another. They all share a pretty serious mission. Leaving aside the standard language used by fraternal organizations—”inculcation” and “indoctrination”—members of the Elks share a significantly thicker bond than neighbors who vote in the same mayoral race, cheer for the same sports teams, suffer the same air pollution, enjoy the same parks, or whose kids go to the same school.
Members of a geography-based news community don’t need to know one another. They just need to believe that there’s a pretty good chance that they know someone who knows them both. Or they need to believe that there’s a pretty good chance that they might want to know one another. (These beliefs probably don’t even need to be justified or true, in the epistemic jargon.)
Members of a geography-based community need only trust and have some regard for one another. I suspect that this trust and regard require more than a thin explanation like liberal cosmopolitanism’s basic respect for persons. There’s got to be a neighborly connection—a sense of common civic purpose and a sense of shared space, resources, and destiny. But I do not believe that this trust and regard require a thick explanation as implied by a notion of “intimacy.”