For the last couple of years local news junkies in San Leandro – and confess, you are one of them – have seen their choices for San Leandro coverage multiply. In addition to the trusty San Leandro Times, San Leandro now counts with its own daily news website, the San Leandro Patch, as well as three newsy blogs: San Leandro Bytes, East Bay Citizen and yours truly, San Leandro Talk. If something is happening in town, chances are you’ll hear about it.
As bright as things may be looking for local media currently, there are signs that San Leandro’s news renaissance may be coming to an end. Already, we’ve lost a print news source as the Daily Review no longer has a reporter assigned to San Leandro. While they cover the occasional story, they do so days late and with little insight as to what’s actually going on.
I’ve written before about the shortcomings of the San Leandro Patch, which have become even more pronounced lately as they’re shifting from local to regional coverage. Ad sales continue to be dismal – the SLP currently only shows 3 local ads. AOL just debuted a Huffington Post San Francisco edition, and if it’s as successful as other local HPs have been, it won’t be long before AOL replaces its Bay Area Patches with one general HP Bay Area.
Things look no better in the blogosphere. After a plea for financial support went unanswered, Steve Tavares, the blogger behind East Bay Citizen, auctioned off its domain name. While the blog is still accessible at its blogspot address, it hasn’t been updated since July 1st. Tavares is tweeting and he’ll likely go back to blogging, but already his San Leandro coverage had become poorer since his one contact as City Hall lost his post.
While San Leandro Bytes and San Leandro Talk will likely continue, neither of these blogs are run by actual journalists and they tend to cover issues of particular interests to the bloggers. In any case, they are not comprehensive.
The future doesn’t have to be as hopeless as I fear, however. While the Patch may change from its present form, chances are its replacement will continue covering San Leandro is some manner, at least in the short term. If they concentrate on the most important news stories rather than fluff pieces, it may actually be an improvement over what’s there now. There is also the possibility that someone will start an independent online news site for San Leandro, in the model of the Berkeleyside. It could take advantage of the content available in the existing blogs, and interface with Facebook and other social media sites to make it easy for San Leandrans to add their own news content. If well marketed to both the public and local businesses, this model could be financially successful (at least in the sense of paying a modest salary to the person in charge). And indeed, as new technologies are created every day, there may be something in the horizon that I can’t foresee.