Before I moved to San Diego, I was living in Washington D.C., covering national politics.
I moved there at the same time as two friends I knew only through Twitter at the time, so naturally we decided to live together.
Moving back to California and working at VOSD has been one of the best experiences of my life. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that since I packed up from that D.C. house, my two ex-roommates have left me in the dust to become bona fide media celebs.
Shani Hilton is now executive editor at Buzzfeed News. She’s the subject of fancy media profiles. People want to know what she reads. Forbes put her on its 30 Under 30 list. And she’s built one of the most insanely talented and diverse newsrooms in the world. (Seriously, read her essay on fostering diversity.)
Jamelle Bouie has become one of the leading writers on race and politics. He’s also made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and checked the “New Yorker byline” box that every journalist has on his or her Dream Career Achievements list.
I checked in with them both this week for a little roundtable interview I’ll call Where Are They Now: The Fifth Estate edition. (The Fifth Estate was the name of our house.)
What are you most proud of accomplishing in the last two years?
Shani: It’s been really amazing being part of an organization that I’ve been able to help build from the ground up; hiring smart, hungry reporters and editors from a wide variety of backgrounds has proven my theory that the more diverse your newsroom, the better it is for your product.
Jamelle: This is going to sound like a plug, but it isn’t! The thing I will be most proud of accomplishing/finishing is an upcoming Slate series on the history of American slavery, which has been a lot of work but I think they pay-off will be great.
What’s your role in covering 2016 going to be like?
Shani: Guiding reporters from the perspective of a slightly out-of-touch editor. I’m not obsessive about politics, so my goal is to help them see outside of the Beltway; it’s very easy to get bogged down in the weeds and forget about what actually matters to your average reader.
Jamelle: I’m going to be one of Slate’s general political correspondents. I’ll be on the trail, but I’ll also be following the election from Washington, writing commentary, and doing my best to illuminate the race.
What’s your living sitch like now?
Shani: I just moved to Brooklyn, where I live with two houseplants. It’s perfect.
Jamelle: I live with my now-fiancee in a small but cozy basement apartment, just a few blocks from our old place! It’s nice.
I feel like there was a deep tension in the house over who was the best chef. Tell me what you’ve been cooking lately.
Shani: I’ve been very into kale salads — I know how insufferable this sounds. But a kale salad tossed with quinoa, pickled red onions, a mustard-based vinaigrette, and some seared shrimp on top is basically my new springtime obsession. (Also: It lasts a few days which is perfect because I don’t have as much time to cook!)
Jamelle: I’ve been baking cakes! Like, every week! It’s been fun. Trying to improve my pastry decorating skills. Of course, it’s also been terrible for my efforts at being healthy. But you know, such is life!
What VOSD Learned This Week
The country’s being ravaged by storms this week, so naturally we decided to focus on sunshine. That is, solar panels and their growing presence in San Diego neighborhoods. Those panels, and the questions they provoke – When should someone invest in solar? Is it actually worth the costs? What are the costs? – are the subject of Lisa Halverstadt’s latest quest.
Then there’s the political storm in San Diego that’s been brewing for some time. It’s over the continued existence of Civic San Diego.
Andrew Keatts talked with the politician at the center of that storm, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who discussed the extent to which labor is behind her push to rein in the agency that issues development permits downtown. (For more background, check this explanation from last week.)
What Else VOSD Learned
• Three years ago, an SDPD officer said he shot and killed unarmed 31-year-old Victor Ortega in self-defense. But now a federal court judge has called that account into question.
• The U-T is now a Tribune property. (Tribune, by the way, doesn’t seem to know that the paper’s been renamed U-T San Diego.) Scott Lewis’ take: This isn’t about L.A. taking over San Diego. It’s about digital news taking over paper products, and how the industry is grappling with that. Liam Dillon recounted the ways in which the U-T’s Doug Manchester and John Lynch duo came up empty on their biggest wish-list items.
• Some neighborhoods with a lot of single-family homes – think North Park – had their zoning changed to make way for big apartment buildings and condos. But those never got built. So San Diego’s knocking down some regulatory barriers to make it easier to build more beloved “bungalow courts” instead.
• San Diego Unified got rid of portable classrooms at San Diego High, making room for two-story buildings meant to address overcrowding. Now officials are dropping $1.47 million in bond money to buy … portable classrooms for San Diego High.
• County officials say we’ve got enough water to handle all the development we’ll need long-term to accommodate population growth. But in the short term, some utilities are introducing restrictions that might complicate things for major projects.
What I’m Reading
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Your Nails vs. Your Morals
Why you should leave a good tip at a nail salon: Because that’s likely the only money you’re manicurist will make, the New York Times finds in this investigation.
Police vs. the Public
A very thoughtful essay from a police officer on why department spokesmen and police unions don’t represent actual officers’ views very well. (Buzzfeed)
Science vs. Marketing
I’m really loving Gawker’s recent obsession with dispelling faux food trends. First, they took down the Food Babe. Now they explain why “natural foods” are not, in fact, better than anything else.
Lady Pol vs. Lady Pol
It was hard to imagine in 2010 a more heavyweight battle between two women than Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer. But Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton, though they’re not yet directly running against each other, could be even more epic.
Shot: Gail Collins is critical of Fiorina’s message that she’s not a professional politician, a not-so-subtle Hillary jab. (New York Times)
Chaser: Clinton’s proposals are getting further and further away from those of her husband’s. (The Atlantic)
Line of the Week
“Getting out of her vintage cast-iron bed, Pinterest trips on a pile of antlers.” – The New Yorker’s perfect parody of Pinterest.