As newspapers cut back on local coverage, bloggers are attempting to fill the void. An example is www.abetteroakland.com which is written by Echa Schneider, who writes on the site under the screen name VSmoothe. The Chron’s Chip Johnson discusses her blog and others covering Oakland politics in his column today. Schneider is critical of news coverage her town receives from the Oakland Tribune. She recently asked, “Why is Oakland’s political coverage so piss-poor? I mean, the Trib has basically one and a half writers covering government here, and the Chronicle has one plus a twice a week columnist.” She got a response from Tribune Managing Editor Martin Reynolds, who said:
- Frankly, the economics of the news business these days don’t allow you to have that many reporters covering one city’s government. To do that, we would have to not cover Oakland schools, the port, Alameda County — something would suffer.
We have to make choices. …
Reynolds says of Schneider’s blog:
- I find this blog to be one of the more informed I have come across. Most recycle what news organizations produce and then run on with Exlax of the fingertips with no journalistic contribution, other than the valuable notion of opinon, which of course has its place.
That said, I find the need for these kinds of forums essential, and that blogs like this are an important part of the conversation, but rarely do they amount to journalism. I am pleased to see this one at least endeavors to adopt a measure of standard. And I frankly agree with your premise: More information is good.
I would completely agree, there needs to be more resources devoted to the coverage of Oakland government, but rest assured, it is a priority.
Reporter Kelly Rayburn is hot on the trails of the Dellums administration and has a weekly column “Citywise” that sums up the various goings on with the City Council without the burden of an entire story for each item. This enables him to focus on more step-back pieces.
As a news organization we have had to decide what’s most important: Process or perspective. And we have largely chosen the latter. We need to frame what is happening in the city for readers, around issues like Children’s Hospital, the Port, police, City Hall and the like.
It’s easy to sit back and denounce what is not being covered. It’s entirely more difficult to figure out how to make sure what needs to be covered gets covered.
Johnson points out in his column today that since Schneider began, a dozen sites have been erected and gone dormant, including a site titled Common Sense. Still others, like dogtowncommons.com update irregularly. A new blog entry, www.eastbayconservative.com, started last month.
How many people are reading this stuff? On Schneider’s biggest day, she drew about 600 hits with a blog on an AC Transit story. And traffic on the site has doubled since December, jumping 30 percent the day after Dellums’ speech in early January, she told Johnson.