Former State Senator Joe Dunn starting an online news website in Orange County

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Joe Dunn

Former State Senator Joe Dunn is getting into the online news business

(Pictured above on the left, with Orange Juice blogger Paul Lucas)

So now we know what former State Senator Joe Dunn has been up to this summer – and why he quit his job with the California Medical Association.  Dunn is organizing a new online news investigative team called the Voice of OC.  The non-profit is being patterned after a similar venture in San Diego, called the Voice of San Diego.

A press packet I received earlier today explains that “The organization will center efforts on gathering basic public documents – such as lawsuits and claims – and examining key issues in cities/agencies. Establishing a systematic approach toward government coverage will essentially seed great regional and investigative reporting.”

The resulting news will be made available to other outlets via syndication and will be presented in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

All of this is very interesting but I don’t see how this is going to pay for itself.  They plan to sell ads and syndicate their feeds. 

Also, according to the materials I received, the venture is starting with a grant of $140,000 from the Orange County Employee’s Association.  This ought to scare the crap out of the OC GOP establishment.  Believe me, NIck Berardino is going to want to see this organization go after seedy Republican politicans.  And I expect that is exactly what they are going to do.

Dunn has recruited quite a few talented folks as reporters and as board members, including former O.C. Register watchdog Norberto Santana and former L.A. Times veterans Dan Morain and Henry Weinstein.  Former State Senator Marta Escutia will be on the board as well, and so will local Santa Ana lawyer Jess Araujo. Dunn even recruited Erwin Chemerinsky, from UCI.

This is clearly a left-leaning organization, so don’t expect them to go after any Democrats.  I don’t expect them to look into the corruption fostered by Democratic politicians like Larry Agran and Miguel Pulido.  But if they do that will be a pleasant surprise.

This venture will NOT feature print publications, which I think will limit its success in the local Latino and Vietnamese communities.  They are the only folks left that rely on print and radio/T.V. media for their news, while the rest of us use the Internet on our computers and our cell phones to find out what is going on.

All that said, I welcome Dunn and company and wish them well.  They will be doing the same thing we do – ostensibly – outing the bad things our politicians are up to.  Given the financial problems at both the Orange County Register and the L.A. Times, Dunn’s timing may be spot on. 

But it would be nice to see a few non-Democrats on their Board.  If they are going to be including politicians in their venture, why not a few Republicans, or even a Libertarian?  Former Judge Jim Gray would be a great fit as a Libertarian.  I can’t think though of many Republicans worth having on board.  I’ll have to ponder that one…

Click here to read Dunn’s press release.  Click here to read the OC Voice board bios.  Click here to read the OC Voice Summary.

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