Watching a newspaper attempt to integrate its output into an online delivery system is a lot like building a hospital: add a wing here, add a lab there, etc. The only problem is that the elevators never stop on the right floor.
It’s that kind of logic that must have led to the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald introducing “My Lawmaker” – a harmless, albeit useless, new feature which allows readers to punch in their address to find out who are their state lawmakers. After you enter your address into a search bar, a relatively uninformative screen comes up. It reminds one of a low-rent version of MapQuest.
Again, completely harmless, but useless. If someone is really interested, why wouldn’t an online reader not just use Google or another search engine to learn about their lawmakers? A reader is not going to think “Who is my lawmaker? (By the way, people who don’t watch Hardball don’t use that term.) Oh wait, let me go look on the Miami Herald’s website to find out who my lawmaker is instead of using Google, which is how I look up everything else!
My Lawmaker is probably from the same wonderful people who brought us PolitiFact, which I love to hate and hate to love. I think PolitiFact is a godsend to people to those who design political advertisements because it’s easy to drop in a ruling from PolitiFact to smear an opponent. On the other hand, I really don’t care for PolitiFact because I think it is redundant. Why should a newspaper have a separate section to help “sort out the truth in politics.” I thought that was what the damn newspaper was for!
At least Aaron Sharockman is one of the Times staffer they have working the new PolitiFact Florida. Don’t think election have consequences? They do even for the reporters who cover the races. Both Sharockman and Cristina Silva covered the St. Petersburg Mayoral Race. The former did an admirable job covering the campaign, while the latter offered up a dog’s breakfast. Hence, Sharockman earns a plum job with the PolitiFact section, while Silva will torture Tallahassee with her coverage of the legislative session.