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We’re back with the list of the best local political and policy stories for the coming year. No. 2 today and No. 1 tomorrow. This one, obviously, I have a vested interest in, so take whatever I say however you want.

Regardless of my and this organization’s place in it, this is going to be a big deal.

2. San Diego’s Changing Media

One of the biggest stories to play out in the next 12 months might not be an issue or a challenge or controversy but more the way stories are told in this region. Fifteen years ago, the region changed forever when the San Diego Union merged with the Evening Tribune. As the Union-Tribune‘s president and CEO announced this week after he laid off 27 employees, a similar reworking of the media landscape is occurring.

In a memo to his employees, Gene Bell elaborated.

Not since the merger of the Union and the Tribune over 15 years ago have we faced such wrenching changes. At the same time, never in our history have we faced revenue losses as dramatic as those of the last 12 months.

The U-T is changing and so is everything else. Wednesday night, news came out that City Councilman Brian Maienschein had officially decided to run for city attorney. The city attorney’s race is going to be one of the most amazing political events to take place in recent memory. This is big news.

But it wasn’t the U-T who broke the story. Nor was it the local television news stations. It was conservative blogger Barry Jantz, a former La Mesa City Councilman. He wrote a post about it on his blog and sent an e-mail out to me and many others.

Blogger Pat Flannery, on the other hand, has become a trusted outlet for City Attorney Mike Aguirre. Flannery actually provoked the U-T itself to write a profile about him and his “unfiltered” news.

The way we get news and the way people spread it is changing as fast as anything in our culture. Obviously, voiceofsandiego.org has created one model of how to do it: Spend far less of our budget on printing and distributing news on space-limiting paper and invest everything we can on quality writing and reporting without trying to make a profit.

But the race to tell 2008’s story will be an amazing story itself.

SCOTT LEWIS

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