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The State of Santa Clarita Media 2023: The Rise of the Open Source Independent Journalism
Navigating the Media Terrain: Accountable SCV's Mission in Santa Clarita
Accountable SCV has been met with curiosity regarding its purpose and objectives. It is crucial first to grasp the State of Santa Clarita Media to provide a comprehensive explanation. In this series of articles, we will embark on a journey down memory lane, offering a glimpse into local media's past, present, and future. We will also outline the role that Transparent SCV and Accountable SCV aim to fulfill. Additionally, we will explore how readers and supporters can actively contribute to the effectiveness and longevity of this platform.
Over the years, numerous websites have emerged in Santa Clarita for various reasons. However, between 2005 and 2015, the golden age of Santa Clarita internet media, traditional players such as SCV News, The Signal (TMS), and KHTS were accompanied by the rise of various blogs and other media. This diversification of media sources shaped the dynamic landscape of Santa Clarita's online media scene.
West Ranch Beacon (WRB) - 2005
David Bossert started the West Ranch Beacon in April 2005; with his first column, "A Commentary The Signal Wouldn't Print." Where he deep-fried the Signal for publishing his column in response to the CEO of the Bank of Santa Clarita, James D. Hicken, as a letter to the editor, Bossert was not shy about his opinions. David was a staunch opponent of the City annexing Stevenson Ranch and other parts on the other side of the 5.
Mr. Bossert was well ahead of his time, and one has to admire his gumption, foresight, and drive to self-publish. David Bossert was an activist writer/blogger before it was a thing. WRB was a labor of love, and since Bossert let it fade to black to become an independent publishing machine, check out his excellent Disney books.
SCV Talk - 2006
There is a reason we referred to SCV Talk as a buzzsaw in the Hatami article. SCV Talk is the closest thing to a grass root online movement that Santa Clarita has ever seen. Jeff Wilson and David Bossert were the founding fathers of the Santa Clarita online protest culture. Both had an ax to grind but had unique ways of going about it. In addition, both Wilson and Bossert had a healthy distrust of the City in general.
SCV Talk, a dynamic WordPress blog, served as the bustling town square for engaging in political discussions, drawing participants from the entire political spectrum. When SCV Talk wrote, city hall listened. SCV Talk was so influential that some disgraceful weasels in town tried to silence Jeff by contacting his work. He didn't lose his job, but it forced him to find another job out of town. Jeff was an avid cyclist and called for a more bike-friendly city.
For years SCV Talk did a daily brief that was a general recap of all the day's relevant local news in one place. Then, after changing jobs, he would do the daily brief on his way to work on one of the City's commuters buses. In addition, SCV Talk played a significant role in uncovering an anonymous YouTube Channel, "Not A Ferry Fan." This channel, attributed to Bill Reynolds, specialized in creating videos that mocked individuals he disdained, especially Mayor Dude Frank Ferry, who always utilized a black space between their teeth for comedic effect—despite using basic software like Windows Movie Maker, the YouTube videos exhibited surprising production quality, capturing viewers' attention due to their unique and satirical nature.
For those who like throwing out the "proud racist" trope concerning Bob Kellar and City Council, you can thank Jeff for watching the youtube video of the Minutemen/Tea Party rally put on by Frank Jorge, Roger Gitlin, and Save Our State, where Bob Kellar made his infamous speech. Save Our State would promote these rallies and attract people across Southern California. In addition, Frank Jorge would appear on an episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30-day show about illegal immigration.
Eventually, Jeff would hang it up and hand over the domain to some locals and a Texas businessman (referred to as Tex 🤠) who was savvy enough to register santaclarita.com. Finally, talented Photographer Josh Premako would sign off SCV Talk on May 29, 2015, with the last daily brief and a story on the first time he met Jeff Wilson. We didn't know what we had till it was gone.
I Heart SCV - 2007
I 💙 SCV is an anonymous blogger that started on July 4, 2007. I 💙 SCV's about is classic, "My credentials for writing about SCV are legion. I was born in Henry Mayo in 1984. I attended Valencia Valley Elementary, La Mesa Junior High, and Valencia High School. I can remember a time when the Summit was the place to live. When not in SCV, I go through SCV withdrawal. And I go to Newhall for more than just the DMV. SCV is full of haters, but me, I Heart SCV."
I 💙 SCV wrote on blog spot for years doing in-depth City Council recaps and live-tweeting city council meetings. He hasn't been active in local politics since July 2020. I 💙's recaps would make astute observations of everyone involved in the meeting. He has a particular knack for mixing what is happening in the room with some of his opinions. Few people knew the true identity of I 💙 SCV, which freed him up to write without fear of reprisal like Jeff Wilson experienced. Nowadays, I 💙 SCV is writing monthly columns for Inside SCV Magazine.
SCV Independent - 2009
SCV Independent was started by Jay Harn, the Signal's publisher from 2007-2008. It is unclear what happened with Harn's exit from The Signal, but given the period during the great recession and the SCV Independent about page, it doesn't seem it was voluntary. Harn also made a dig about being locally owned because The Signal was owned by Georgia-based Morris Multimedia from 1979 to 2016. SCV Independent was a print and web newspaper that operated for about a year before giving up the ghost.
Talk of Santa Clarita - 2015
Talk of Santa Clarita was started by Stephen Daniels after a failed City Council run. Stephen was a Kentucky transplant with an "ah shucks" persona. Stephen's first podcast was an interview with Alan Ferdman; Daniels had some early success landing former Congressman Steve Knight; he would go on to interview most elected officials and just about anyone involved in local politics.
During its tenure, The Talk of Santa Clarita podcast amassed an impressive 175 episodes and, at one point, gained recognition on The Signal's website following Chuck Champion and his company's acquisition of The Signal from Morris Multimedia. Hosted by Stephen, the show encountered criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Those on the left accused Stephen of soft balling Republican guests, while some on the right became disenchanted when he took a firm stance in the Dante Acosta Vs. Jennifer Van Laar controversy.
Dante Acosta was engaged in a tightly contested race against Christy Smith for the 38th assembly seat during that period. Stephen's involvement in the situation was seen by many as a political maneuver that ultimately proved unsuccessful. Ironically, Jennifer Van Laar later revealed images and a story leading to Katy Hill's resignation. Hill subsequently sued Van Laar for releasing what Democrats called revenge porn, but the judge determined it did not qualify as porn and was relevant to the public interest. *Sad Trombone*
When Chris and Richard Budman purchased The Signal from Champion, Daniels started his own "news" publication called the Proclaimer, which ran for about two years before shutting down and was mainly funded by Covid grant money.
SClarita.com - 2015
We almost forgot In July 2015, some of the former writers for SCVTalk, Mike Devlin, I Heart SCV, and others, attempted to revive the SCVTalk vibes with SClarita.com, which saw some early success and broke the story of the sexual harassment allegation against Dante Acosta. Because of the timing, however, it was ultimately seen as a hit job by many in town, especially after publishing an irrelevant email between Van Laar and Vanessa Wilk that made it seem like the Wilks were covering up for Acosta. Even Chuck Champion, the Signal’s owner at the time, who disliked Acosta and Wilk immensely, would not run with the story because he felt it was too flimsy and was taking a hard stand against dirty campaigning. Ultimately it didn’t matter as Dante went on to defeat Christy Smith.
In the next part, we will review the local mainstream media's history and some challenges they face. Be sure to subscribe to stay current on the latest from Accountable SCV and consider supporting through a paid subscription.