I started the Surf City Voice in 2010 as an outgrowth of the monthly print newspaper, Orange Coast Voice , that I co-owned and edited from 2006 to 2009.
Shortly after starting the Surf City Voice, I changed its focus from local politics to regional water issues because of the lack of attention given to that topic by the Orange County news media.
Besides my own reporting, I occasionally publish reporting by other writers who have expertise on water management issues.
The Surf City Voice focuses sharply but not exclusively on transparency. In the past 10 years, the Surf City Voice has led the way in exposing Brown Act violations (secret meetings, etc.) and ethical and legal conflicts of interest by elected and appointed officials serving on Orange County water boards.
The Surf City Voice also provides in-depth coverage of drought response, conservation management, ocean desalination, environmental protection (or the lack of it), water recycling, solid waste disposal, etc.
Traditionally, water board meetings were more or less de facto off limits to the general public, so few people attended.
Orange County water districts spend millions of dollars on public relations, i.e., manipulating public opinion, but not a penny to encourage their ratepayers to attend their public meetings.
But the Surf City Voice has helped to (slowly) change that some by informing its readers and encouraging them (through published stories and pubic speaking appearances) to attend water board meetings and take charge.
The Surf City Voice is the only news service regularly represented at meetings of Orange County’s major water districts.
Occasionally, but not often enough, investigative reporting by the Surf City Voice has provided the catalyst for followup stories published in the OC Register, LA Times (local editions), Voice of OC and PBS Socal Insider (reporting by David Nazar).
The management of our water resources is the single most important issue related to human life, yet we are generally poorly informed about it. Our corporate news media have cut back reporting on important issues, including water, at a time when it is most needed.
The Internet, in theory, provides new ways to fill in the news gap left behind (or never filled in the first place) by dying news gathering institutions. But the underlying problem is still the same: without funding, there is no way to sustain the kind of journalism we need to keep our government accountable.
Please help me, with your generous and greatly appreciated contributions, to do my part to fill the news gap.