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We’ve been at this now for seven years, and one lesson stands out most clearly.
It’s easy for even our most engaged readers to miss our stories. Each piece only stays prominently on the front page for a day, if that, and then gets cycled out to keep the site looking fresh.
Plus, often the stories we follow are running narratives that unfold over weeks or months, on the web or television or radio, and we don’t adequately connect the dots. We spend a lot of time and resources on what we think are important stories, but then they get buried in the ether.
To confront this, we’ve begun to put together a regular series of Reader’s Guides that take a step back from the hectic daily cycle and combine all that rolling coverage into one big picture.
We have a bunch in the works right now on the narratives we follow, so look for them.
In the meantime, here are five of my favorites:
San Diego’s roads have gotten worse under Mayor Jerry Sanders despite an unprecedented infusion of money.
Breaking the hotly contested $200 billion transportation plan down into five — count them, five! — easy steps.
This is one of those classic stories that moves slowly and incrementally but, before you know it, all the details have passed you by. Jump in now to stay on top of it.
A sweeping pension reform initiative is headed for the ballot in June, so we’ll be doing more than just one reader’s guide on this. But this is a good place to start on what promises to be the biggest debate in town in the primary election.
Before the four-year anniversary of the 2007 wildfires, we published this guide on how the utility’s been blamed for two of the three major fires and has paid out more than $1 billion in settlements.
A quick anecdote that shows why we do these: Just after we’d unveiled our series of stories on the city’s infrastructure, regular reader and VOSD member Omar Passons commented on a story of ours wishing we had more on infrastructure.
I don’t believe I’ve seen that type of coverage in your previous articles on the issue, though honestly I’ll need to go back and check when there is some spare time.
But we shouldn’t make you use your spare time to go back and check if there’s more coverage. That’s our job — to make sense of this stuff for you. You shouldn’t have to work that hard to consume news.
Days later, after we published our Reader’s Guide, Passons was a happy man:
Wow. This is a really terrific piece that makes a very complex issue straightforward to digest. I remember it was an article like this about some other important issue in San Diego a few years ago that really elevated VOSD for me. I am very pleased to read this and look forward to the dialogue it hopefully generates.
Let me know if there’s an issue you think needs a Reader’s Guide.
Lastly, expect me to be doing more notes like this throughout the year to explain what we do and why we do it. Last month, I told you why we consider ourselves truth vigilantes.
Drop me a line if there’s something you want explained or questions you want answered.
I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0526.
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