Mark Katches wrote and edited for the Orange County Register for a decade. Now he's in Berkeley, serving as editorial director of California Watch, a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting that also has an office near the Capitol in Sacramento.
California Watch aims to fill the vacuum created by dwindling traditional newsrooms and hard-hitting reportage in the Golden State.
Now, on the eve of its second birthday, California Watch is opening a Southern California bureau at a place Katches knows well.
In a letter to friends and supporters, Katches reports that the Southern California bureau opens next month in the Register's newsroom in Santa Ana. Indeed, what's gone on staffing-wise at the Reg helped create the space for California Watch. Katches writes:
As traditional newsrooms have cut back, they have been left with vast stretches of open space inside their newsrooms or buildings. We are able to capitalize in a way that benefits our organization and our hosts.
We explored opportunities at the Los Angeles Times, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and The Register. But The Register offered a deal that made sense financially. Just as important, our presence in the middle of The Register's newsroom, near its investigative and social media teams, will provide more opportunities for collaboration.
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Our location dead center inside The Register's newsroom also tells you something about how the media landscape is evolving. Rather than viewing us as competitors or a foreign species, The Register is welcoming us with open arms, treating us like we are part of the staff. And that's how we prefer to be viewed by anyone who partners with us. The California Watch mission is to help news outlets around the state to generate high-impact investigative journalism. In an ideal world, our partners view us an extension of themselves.
Staffing the Southern California bureau initially will be health and welfare reporter Joanna Lin and public engagement manager Ashley Alvarado. But Katches says the Register is providing enough room for interns, visiting staffers and future expansion.
A "big fan of the location in Santa Ana," Katches writes the freeway-close locale will help get his reporters to other Southern California locations, including downtown Los Angeles, the Inland Empire and even the border.