The Hotline- CONSULTANTS' CORNER: A Local One Stop Shop
By Katherine Lehr
There is already much talk over which technology will have the biggest impact in the '08 cycle. Will YouTube continue with its '06 hype? Or will social networks, such as Facebook and MySpace, help capture the youth vote? But it may be a new twist on an old technology that can make a difference -- at least at the local level.
Launched in Dec. '06, Pegasus News is an online local news and information service site for the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, area. It is dedicated to bringing "everything" a local would want to know and is positioned as an online newspaper. Sections range from "Metro" and "Sports" to "Dining" and "Shopping."
Within the section on the local gov't and civic affairs are subsections corresponding to elected officials in every jurisdiction within its coverage area. This includes 85 town councils, 43 Independent School District (ISD) board of trustees, five county commissioners courts and the candidates for the '07 Dallas mayoral race. Featured within each individual page is a Pegasus News-created database for political contributions made to these elected officials since Jan. '05. The information, which was obtained through open records requests and manually entered, is updated after each "discreet" filing deadline. For each contribution the name of the contribution, as well as the address from which the contribution was made, are clickable.
In addition to the contribution database, all candidates in the 5/12 election have been invited in for interviews. Of the 11 mayoral candidates thus far, Zac Crain, Tom Leppert and Gary Griffith have conducted interviews. The videos, which run for as long as the candidate is interested in talking, are available to watch on the candidate's page within the site. Links to other local stories and blog entries on them are included, as well. Users are encouraged to send in questions that will be posed during the interview.
Pegasus News pres./founder Mike Orren says the current coverage of the local gov't is "only a fraction of the depth" it will reach following the 3/12 filing deadline. The site will also be covering local cong. races, as well as TX SEN and GOV races when applicable. As for WH '08? Orren says nat'l information is "less unique" because so much of it is available from other sources. Orren: "We'll cover it if Barack Obama is landing at Love Field."
With a staff of 12-15 full-time employees, the content on the site is also generated from 25 content partners. Further, the local Fox affiliate is allowing the site to use its video. Pegasus News, which had up to 200K unique visitors in Feb. '07, plans to expand to other cities in the future (Hotline reporting, 3/8).