Thursday, January 10, 2013

Local political coverage

Illustration by Danny Hellman for the Guardian

A chronic shortcoming of local weeklies and blogs is their peculiar lack of real interest in local issues. Take for example Tim Redmond's "2012 Off-Guard awards for the worst of a dismal year" in last week's Bay Guardian. Of 39 items Redmond lists for his awards, only six are on local issues. Most of his awards are potshots at national Republican political figures. Does San Francisco really need one of its important print media outlets pointing out the shortcomings of Republicans? Why does Redmond think he has anything new or interesting to say about people and issues that have already been said---and said better---by publications and online sources over the last year?

The answer seems to be that Redmond finds national political issues and personalities more interesting than what the Guardian really should be doing for San Francisco: covering local issues in more depth. That's why people read the SF Chronicle and the SF Examiner, and that's why they should read the Guardian---and take it more seriously. Its left-wing, PC slant on the issues would be easier to swallow if it worked harder at covering city issues.
The same goes for Beyond Chron, which also seems to be more interested in national political issues than local issues. Like Redmond why does Randy Shaw think anyone finds his banal take on national issues of any interest? Since he's the boss at Beyond Chron, I suppose there's nobody there to tell him that, and he's even written in the past that people aren't interested much in local issues. Maybe if he took more interest in them---and wrote about them accordingly---at Beyond Chron, he would learn differently. 

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Whatever happened to Nate Silver?

He's earned a permanent place in our public life. Even after the election, his blog is still fun and worthwhile. An excerpt from an online interview (note his slighting reference to identity politics):
Q. What’s been the strangest experience you’ve had due to your sudden fame?
A. When I was in Mexico last week, I got recognized at the top of the Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan, which I'm pretty sure really is a sign of the Apocalypse.
Q. Which do you find more frustrating to analyze, politics or sports?
A. Politics. I don't think its close. Between the pundits and the partisans, you're dealing with a lot of very delusional people. And sports provides for much more frequent reality checks. If you were touting how awesome Notre Dame was, for example*, you got very much slapped back into reality last night. In politics, you can go on being delusional for years at a time.
  • Full disclosure: I said in a NYT video yesterday that I'd bet Notre Dame against the spread.
Q. In a recent profile, you stated you wished not to be known as a “gay statistician” but as a statistician who happens to be gay. Isn’t that a bit naive in today’s political and social climate? Don’t you think that whether you like it or not, people will treat you differently because you are gay and that your identity as a gay man cannot be limited to your private sexuality? As someone so ubiquitous now in the public sphere, should you be addressing issues in your writing that are related to gay rights as much as baseball?
A. It's a complicated issue that maybe doesn't lend itself so well to the reddit treatment. My quick-and-dirty view is that people are too quick to affiliate themselves with identity groups of all kinds, as opposed to carving out their own path in life.