Tuesday, December 06, 2011

More advice for the Examiner

One thing the new owners of the SF Examiner---and the Chronicle, too, for that matter---could do to help their readers is provide more online links, especially for government reports and documents. When Examiner reporter Will Reisman recently wrote about the city's "transit first" policy ("In transit-first San Francisco, cars still rule the road"), he relied on the useful MTA Transportation Fact Sheet for a lot of his information. Alas, he didn't---or couldn't---provide readers with a link to the important document, which I got from SF Streetsblog.

Since reporters like Reisman go to the important meetings and have access to public officials---his phone calls are more likely to be returned than mine---they often have access to documents the rest of us, whether bloggers or interested citizens, don't have. They can empower the rest of us by providing links to crucial documents on city issues.

We can take a lesson from the late, great I.F. Stone, whose newsletter I read religiously in the 1960s and 1970s: "Go into the bowels of government where the really good sources are. They are good public servants, very often breaking their hearts with frustration.They're the best kind of source...I made no claims to inside stuff. I tried to give information which could be documented, so the reader could check it for himself."

Even though the official City Hall policies are often foolish and city government can seem bloated and dysfuntional, there are "good public servants" doing good work. Another document that shows that the MTA is making our streets safer over time is its annual "collisions" report on all injury accidents on the streets of San Francisco, the latest version of which is here.

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