San Diegans now have another source for news. The San Diego News Network (SDNN.com) launched a beta version this week, with a staff of over fifty reporters, correspondents and editors and twenty eight “partnering” media organizations.
In an opening communiqué, CEO Neil Senturia promises over 30 sections will be initiated in coming months, encompassing local politics, sports, movies, restaurants and other topics. With former Sign On San Diego honcho Ron James as Publisher/Executive Editor, the SDNN initial offerings included:
**Associated Press Coverage on the Banking Crisis. And three different AP stories about the drug dealers that threw cash out of their vehicle while tooling up I-805 with the law in hot pursuit. Their reliance on the AP for national coverage suggests that it will mirror the generally conservative slant that news organization has exhibited in recent months.
**A feature by Joseph Pena profiling SD City Councilmember Carl Demaio. Political consultant Larry Remer is quoted as calling DeMaio a political “bomb-thrower”. Others interviewed for the piece aren’t willing to pass judgment yet, including Remer’s long-ago consulting partner (and now partisan opponent) Tom Sheppard. Bottom line: meh?
**Reflections on the sale of the Union-Tribune by SDNN deputy editor Eric Yates in which he poses the question: “why would a private equity company, with no prior history of owning a major news publication, suddenly pounce to acquire a daily metro that has had a 40 percent reduction in ad revenue since 2006?”
**A lengthy article on the urban farming by Eric Glass. The most “new media” of all the initial offerings, complete with a video and background story links. While informative and well written, it falls short when it comes to placing the story in the context of the national and local interest in locavorism.
**Coverage of the local prostitution business by Political Editor Hua Quach. The price of oral sex has fallen along with property values, we’re told. And I guarantee that his story will generate the most hits on the site, since anything mentioning s.e.x. on blogs and news websites always generates huge traffic. (Even our mention of the topic will increase the OBRag’s traffic by a significant amount.)
A screenshot displayed on the SDNN website promises that the limited offerings on the beta release will significantly increase in the future.
SDNN appears to understand the collaborative future of web-based news reporting by virtue of their partnerships with other organizations, including radio stations, community newspapers and San Diego Magazine. What remains to be seen is whether they can wield that collaboration into an actual point of view. The issue here is not partisanship or even necessarily agenda. But if you try to be all things to all people, you end up being nothing to nobody.