Jason Koertge Emerges as Online News Force in Panama City Beach

High-Impact BloggerInternet entrepreneur Jason Koertge emerges as a news force in Panama City BeachBy John Eric Vona

One part blog, one part news Web site and one part community forum, pcbdaily.com is a hybrid on the cutting edge of the online news medium. Creator Jason Koertge, 29, may be aware of what his site has become but he hasn’t forgotten its humble and simple beginnings.

A native of the Lone Star State, Koertge came to Florida in 2001 to attend Florida State University Panama City. After graduating with a degree in criminology two years later, he was working with a local sales and marketing firm, trying to put together information about the area. That’s when he ran into a problem.

He was searching for anything from economic status to sales, real estate growth to old news articles, and he was coming up empty handed. "There was nothing out there on the Web except the local news media and they didn’t have very much online," he said.

When many people are faced with such a dead end, they give up. Others keep on digging. Koertge didn’t just persevere; he set out to rectify the problem for all those who would come after him.
"PCBdaily was originally designed with the intent of warehousing information," he said.

It was a massive undertaking for someone with no prior Web design or reporting experience. He started out on Google’s blogger and went from there. He credits PCBdaily with forcing him to learn everything he knows how to do now, including writing news stories and coding Web pages in raw HTML.

"It’s a lot bigger than I ever thought it would be," Koertge explained. "It’s grown into what some call a full-blown news Web site."

Posting at least 10 articles a week, and at one point employing four other writers, PCBdaily’s newsletter has more than 9,000 readers and the site’s traffic averages about 20,000 hits per month. Roughly 35 percent of that comes from search engine results, locals looking for information on the Web or potential visitors checking out the area. To keep up with all this, Koertge has become a jack of all trades, writing articles, maintaining the site and going out to get advertisers.

Responding to critics who say he doesn’t have a real Web site, just a blog, Koertge notes on the site that, "a blog is by definition a real Web site." And while some might use the term "blog" to defame PCBdaily, he counters that many blogs provide useful information.

As for those who think PCBdaily is a news site, Koertge isn’t going to reject that label either. "I broke stories that have been picked up by the news later," he said, adding that he sees his site as a supplement, not a replacement, to the existing media in Panama City Beach. "What PCBdaily does, the local newspaper can’t really do. They don’t have the capability of hosting huge documents."

No matter what you call it, Jason Koertge has his finger on the pulse of Panama City Beach, providing information of interest. And what does the future hold for this entrepreneur and his little site that could?

"I’m going to expand the content base," he said. "We are going to do more video content, grow the photographic content and take on more contributing authors. We want to get the word out that PCBdaily is there and that it is a great source of information for the community."

Koertge’s plans are not limited to PCBdaily, though. As this articles goes to press, he plans to have launched a second Web site aimed directly at tourists and visitors and has formed a new company, TooCreative, to house these sites.