Thursday, June 06, 2013

Thinking Big at Beyond Chron

Photo by Frank Jang

Randy Shaw's Beyond Chron, as the name of the site suggests, was conceived in 2004 as an alternative to what he thought were the shortcomings of the SF Chronicle. As the years pass, the Chronicle is looking a lot better than Beyond Chron simply because it does a better job of covering local issues. (It also does a better job on state issues, but that's not a beat we need Beyond Chron to cover.)

What San Francisco needs from its online media is more coverage of city issues, not by-the-numbers "progressive" screeds on national issues that we often get from Beyond Chron. But Shaw himself has always been less interested in local issues than in national issues, which he made explicit way back in 2005.

For years Shaw ignored the anti-car bike movement in the city. He was even surprised and angered several years ago when opposition by Tom Radulovich and the bike people threatened to delay a Market Street development he supported.

Since Shaw is a dedicated "progressive," he's been getting with the bike program lately, especially since his favorite ethnic group---or at least its leadership---supports City Hall's anti-car, pro-bike policies. But has he talked to David Chiu and Jane Kim lately about Polk Street?

Instead, a few days ago Shaw published a piece by the anti-car Angie Schmitt, a regular contributor to the national Streetsblog, who does an interview with a new "urbanist" based in Texas. The day before he published a piece lauding New York City's bike movement ("Bicycling Surges Across the Country...")

What about the bike "surge" in San Francisco? What about the city's Bicycle Plan? What just happened with the MTA's bike lane project on Polk Street? What about the Masonic Avenue project and the Fell/Oak project? 

Today's edition of Beyond Chron features a thoughtful piece on the transportation system in Los Angeles. Why not cover San Francisco's transportation system?

No one with a serious interest in national issues relies only on the Chronicle for their coverage, so why does Shaw think he can/should do it on Beyond Chron?

Besides, when locals are interested in national issues, they can now turn to Kevin Drum, the Washington Monthly, Slate, Salon, Paul Krugman, Jonathan Chait, and Daily Kos, among others. Nothing Shaw or his contributors write can match those folks on national issues.

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