Activists have proved over the years to be better watchdogs of city government than reporters, anyway. There are several reasons:
Community reporters are the least experienced in the newsroom, with a lot of turnover. Activists are able to draw on years of experience in the real world of business and finance, and tend to stay put in their communities. (It would be interesting to track where these reporters and editors move onto, with newspaper jobs vanishing. Maybe they become feature writers. I know of one former SV News editor who worked as employee or consultant on a public relations campaign to win 5-0 city council approval for high-density, low- income housing in Mission Viejo. The developer spread so much campaign money around to incumbents in preceding city council elections that, for PR purposes, Mike Tyson or Dog the Bounty hunter could have swung a unanimous vote. It’s all about the money.)
Activists have become efficient writers and communicators, getting a lot of practice appearing before the city council, writing emails, etc. Look at the Dispatch entries-most communicate their messages against big, secret government consistently and clearly.
Activists have more time than reporters to dig into city affairs, including document research. Most activists are in late career or retirement and want to fill increased free time with useful endeavors.
Activists are skeptical of government, which used to be a motivation for reporters. The general public shares activists’ desire for limited, open government (hence, the 3-1 ouster of the old council majority), and turn away from newspapers that echo officialdom.