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Will More West Hollywood News Outlets Mean Increased Scrutiny for Local Politicians?

LAist noted the other day that West Hollywood now has three "media outlets" training their eyes exclusively on the small, 1.9-square-mile city. It's the kind of thing that makes one wonder if West Hollywood politicians will now come under more scrutiny?

At first look, that doesn't appear to be the case, with one of those outlets, West Hollywood Patch, offering up a very brief, softball interview with West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman, a major power broker.

Heilman was featured in a recent, investigative L.A. Weekly cover story titled "West Follywood: How a progressive town founded on renters' rights and diversity ended up gridlocked, angry and elitist."

The other two outlets mentioned by Zach Behrens at LAist are WeHo News and WeHo Daily. WeHo News, an online-only newspaper, has been around for five years and has earned itself a solid reputation by covering various controversial issues with an independent and skeptical eye, as well as allowing columnists to sound off on city government officials.

WeHo Daily is more like a wire service for twenty- and thirty-somethings, who, in the past, haven't always kept close tabs on West Hollywood news. WeHo Daily uses such social networking tools as a blog and a very active Twitter account to inform readers about car crashes, crime, and various happenings around the city.

Sometimes it dips into controversial issues like a proposed smoking ban for outdoor patios at bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, or links to hard news stories from other news organizations such as L.A. Weekly or the L.A. Times.

WeHo News is helmed by editor Ryan Gierach, who recently announced a partnership with Frontiers Media, which owns the gay and lesbian magazine Frontiers. WeHo Daily, which has been around for about a year, is the brainchild of Darin Weeks. West Hollywood Patch, which launched on Wednesday, is AOL-owned and edited by Nancy C. Rodriguez.

West Hollywood Patch, which has 12 contributors, plus editor Rodriguez, seems to have the kind of resources to do some interesting reporting on West Hollywood. which never fails to have one controversy or another brewing.

But Patch essentially gave Heilman a pass, asking him questions he's no doubt been asked many times before: "How has West Hollywood evolved in the past 25 years?" and "What makes West Hollywood unique?" and "What's the economic forecast for West Hollywood?"

Heilman, though, is seen as a controversial figure in West Hollywood, and he's facing a re-election in 2011. Why not ask him a question or two about the coming election and its hot button issues?

Patch also glossed over a very controversial smoking ban in another article by simply stating the two different positions on the issue and not digging deeper -- is the proposed ban based on hard science, for example? And why not ask Heilman, one of the leading proponents of the smoking ban, about it in his interview?

In the end, there was nothing new or revealing in the Heilman interview or the smoking ban piece. It's the kind of press West Hollywood politicians can certainly live with.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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