More groups likely will emerge. One, thePPL, is forming to provide space and community support for non-traditional media during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September. That group has plans for streaming video and special forums and interviews during the convention, aiming to build an environment like The Big Tent from The Daily Kos. Independent journalists can pay $45 to get access to working space in uptown Charlotte during the convention.

For the contributors and staff at these sites, the challenges are new and ever changing. Ovaska said she feels lucky and more secure at N.C. Policy Watch than she did in a traditional news organization, though she sometimes misses the camaraderie of a newsroom.

“I certainly don’t have a road map in front of me of how to do this,” she says. Just like the readers who seek out political and civic information in a new world, she’s still feeling her way.

Andria Krewson is an independent journalist in Charlotte and a student in the University of North Carolina's master of arts in technology and digital communication. She worked at The Charlotte Observer for many years. Find her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/underoak or http://twitter.com/akrewson.