June 20, 2010; Source: California Watch | While there’s a lot of hand-wringing going on about the decline of the traditional, for-profit news media, there’s also a lot to like about the inventive ways some newer nonprofit outlets are approaching their reporting. A case in point is the announcement this week of the launch of Politics Verbatim, a website that “will attempt to track every quote, promise and statement made by our two major candidates for governor in California—Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman.”

The new website is operated by California Watch, a project of the nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting. Among the features of the site is a search function that readers can use to sort through candidates statements in nine categories. According to Mark Katches, California Watch’s editorial director, if candidates “dodge an issue or a subject, there’s a search category for that, too.” Katches says the overall goal of Political Verbatim is to “create a resource for voters and for those interested in policy . . . By tracking the candidates’ spoken words, we could hold their feet to the fire when they break promises or fail to live up to campaign pledges.”

The site launched with some 300 documents and 1,000 excerpts. Katches said new material will be added daily as staff scour news as well as the candidates’ own campaign sites and their Twitter and Facebook feeds. He also says other journalists and readers will be encouraged to upload their own video and audio files from campaign events. Says Katches, “With help from others and from our media partners, we believe we can build a useful, relevant tool in a critical election year.”—Bruce Trachtenberg