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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bay Citizen Launches. We Report on Their Reporting.

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 1:11 PM

click to enlarge The Bay Citizen has launched ... with an expose of a 35-year-old law
  • The Bay Citizen has launched ... with an expose of a 35-year-old law
At last, the Warren Hellman-funded Bay Citizen has launched. Rather than cover co-founders quitting the media nonprofit in a huff or its decision to award a CEO with no journalism experience a $400,000 salary and freelancers $25 a pop we can now actually read the articles.

So we did. And we will again. It's good to read actual reported articles on the web. But, to be honest, we're a bit perplexed by the Bay Citizen's choice for its first investigative feature.

The story uses 3,000 words to essentially inform readers that, A. Prop. 13 exists, and; B. It's better to be an obscenely wealthy person who pays little in taxes than a poor or middle-class person who pays a lot. The level of reportage for this story is notable -- sources are interviewed, numbers are crunched, formulas are applied, and there's even an interactive chart. But, for all that, the dense, slowly unfolding story fails to offer any revelations. Yes, Prop. 13 exists and it benefits old, rich people who've owned their houses for a long time. And, yes, that hardly seems fair -- as interviewee after interviewee tells the Bay Citizen.

Bravo to the Bay Citizen for writing a serious story about a serious issue. But we think those with even a rudimentary understanding of Prop 13 know most of this stuff -- and ignorant people will not read this story to the end.

And yet, reading the Bay Citizen, we also learned Mark Twain's lover once bought him a vibrating sex toy.

Didn't expect to read that, did you? Neither did we. That was a fun little story. We also learned we can buy nasty pesticides at marijuana-centric grow shops; and Gerry Shih drew the short straw and ended up covering a Board of Education meeting -- a mainstay of community news.

Finally, we enjoyed the article about Episco Disco; many of the Bay Citizen's stories seem to have the "Amazing scenes were witnessed today" tone of "serious journalism." That's fine, but it's also good to have long, free-flowing stories about a disco project in a cathedral, too. More pictures and perhaps even video would have been a good thing as well. 

The Bay Citizen appears to be updating its page often. We know we'll be back to check several times a day.   

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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