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Pelican Press alumnus launches new online Sarasota news outlet

Sarasota News Leader Editor Rachel Brown Hackney

It’s rare to report about a new publication opening up shop, but I’m happy to pass along the news: Former Pelican Press Editor Rachel Brown Hackney has launched a new electronic publication dedicated to all things local. The name? The Sarasota News Leader.

Right now, it looks like your typical blog, but the long-term goal of the outlet is to become an electronic weekly, similar in flavor to the Pelican, but delivered via electronic tablets like iPads and Kindles. The staff will be covering city and county government, the school board and community news, and publishing investigative pieces to boot.

The site dubs itself “the progressive voice of SW Florida,” a voice those involved feel isn’t represented in local media, with the Observer Group’s cuts at the Pelican and the Herald-Tribune‘s buyout of Creative Loafing.

Hackney, who spent years at the Pelican, isn’t alone in her endeavor. Longtime Pelican reporter and former Patch contributor Stan Zimmerman is breaking news regularly at City Hall; his latest scoop is the news that some city officials are not currently bonded, a violation of our charter. The publication’s editorial board called the revelation “yet another scandal” rocking City Hall and “erod[ing] the confidence of citizens.”

The site also features county reporting from former Creative Loafing and Florida Independent Editor Cooper Levey-Baker. He broke the news about potential Department of Justice intervention in Kathy Dent’s plan to consolidate voting precincts around the county. Others contributing to the publication include Staff Writer Robert Ross, Contributing Photographer Norman Schimmel, Contributing Writers David Staats and Fran Palmeri, A&E Writer Elinor Rogosin and General Manager Robert S. Hackney, Rachel’s husband.

The plan for now is for the staff to keep blogging to build credibility and buzz, and then launch the full-fledged e-weekly come August. Can a new publication make a dent in the Observer– and Herald-Tribune-dominated local media universe? I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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Posted on June 11th, 2012Comments RSS Feed
5 Responses to Pelican Press alumnus launches new online Sarasota news outlet
  1. MC, I was happy to see you give The Sarasota News Leader a boost. I think they’re doing a great job covering both Siesta and our local governments – much better, and more accurately, than the competition. Let’s hope it’s an experiment that works.

    I was sorry to see you wrote your last column for the SHT. Hope it was because you are moving on to more exciting and challenging writing opportunities.

    Reply
    • Anne,
      How nice to hear from you! I appreciate you visiting my blog — I was happy to post something about the Sarasota News Leader. Everyone’s talking about what a great job they’re doing with just as you said — Siesta and especially local government. I’ve seen several pubs report on things after SNL broke the story first. Very cool.

      I appreciate your words about the Sense and the City column. I hope more exciting and challenging writing opportunities open up too … if not, I’ll have to make ’em or find ’em!

      Thanks again for your note,
      All best,
      MC

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