Nov 10, 2009

ZevPost launches

You don't need two hands to count the number of reporters who cover the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors - which governs most populous county in the nation - on a daily basis. And, since L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky now has a staff of former journalists working for him that rivals some local newspapers, he's unveiled his own site to chronicle county doings.

From his inaugural blog entry:
Let me be clear, we’re not purporting to be a journalistic organization or to end-run traditional news outlets with propagandistic content. We are simply offering you another stop on your daily journey through the web for deeper coverage in areas we’ve long considered priorities: health, transportation, the environment, arts and culture, public safety, social services and the economy.
As long as readers (who I'm sure will mostly be media types and other government officials) take the above statement to heart and approach the site with a healthy dose of skepticism, ZevPost should be a net positive to county coverage. And if it further reduces press-release journalism in our staff starved newsrooms, all the better.

There are pitfalls, of course. How does the site operate during campaign season (and how is it paid for)? Does Zev restrict access to journalists in favor of his own friendly writeup - or point reporters to his site rather than agree to answer tough questions? Do news sites disseminate his reports, spin included, and call it news?

The big worry is that this type of site lets a politician leap frog the media filter. But I think this just makes the filter more vital. And given the fact that some of the other supervisors live inside protective bubbles, let's hope this experiment increases the level of scrutiny given to all five members of the board.

(found via LA Observed)

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