Welcome Elana Schor, Streetsblog’s New National Reporter

elana.jpgAs you may have noticed, we’ve got a new reporter here at Streetsblog, Elana Schor. Elana will be covering this year’s big federal transportation story down in Washington D.C. with an eye towards helping transit advocates and livable streets activists gain a better understanding of what
has typically been a very inside-the-Beltway, highway-oriented process. If you have tips, comments or questions for Elana, email her: elana [at] streetsblog [dot] org.

Elana has covered Capitol Hill for more than four years, most recently as a staff reporter for The Hill, The Guardian, and the Talking Points Memo blog. Her work has also been published by MarketWatch and the Biloxi Sun-Herald. She holds a masters degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and lives in Washington’s very walkable Mount Pleasant neighborhood. 

Streetsblog’s national work is being funded by grants from the Surdna Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund.

Regarding this national work — here’s a question for you: What would you like to see Elana cover in the coming months? Or, more generally, how would you like to see Streetsblog approach the federal transportation issues?

I’ve found that Streetsblog tends to work best and engage readers most when we focus on the hyper-local and hyper-personal side of policy issues. Yet, unlike neighborhood street fights and seemingly timeless issues like sidewalk cycling and rolling stops, federal transportation policy often feels too big and distant to get a handle on. It sometimes feels more like a spectator sport, taking place on this whole other playing field where, I think, locally-oriented livable streets activists often don’t feel like they have much influence.

So, this is going to be our challenge in the coming months: Cover the federal transportation policy process in a way that makes Streetsblog a daily read for national advocates, elected officials, Hill staffers and U.S. DOT personnel while also making the issues engaging and tangible to grassroots livable streets activists. By making transit coverage more accessible, the goal is to take the blinders off policymakers who have historically been beholden to moneyed lobbies rather than new ideas.

I’m convinced that the local activists are key. The hundreds of thousands of people across America who are working to make their own communities more bikeable, walkable and transit-oriented are the most powerful force for pushing federal transportation policy in a smarter more sustainable direction. We’ve just got to get informed and engaged. Elana is going to help us do that. 

  • Glenn

    I’d like to get to know key DC decision-makers and influencers. In the end all policy comes down to the people driving or blocking funding formulas, new legislation and regulations. Holding people personally accountable for their actions is very important to making progress.

    But at the same time specific impacts of decisions – linking decisions made in DC with actual stakes in the ground work that happens in the local areas. Did this highway expansion lead to more traffic elsewhere? Did a repaving really need to happen or was it pork barrel funding? Was this a bike lane that helped connect to a larger network or just a recreation trail that few people use or want?

    Knowing that a specific project helped or hurt the environment or local communities can be good teaching moments to help us push for the right types of projects.

  • Welcome to Streetsblog, Elana.

    Aaron, perhaps one way you could do it (and I’m not necessarily saying you should) is to possibly create a Streetsblog NY section, and then cover issues more generally on a national level with your existing Streetsblog.

  • Eric,

    Thanks for mentioning that. We are working on separating out the national coverage and the local New York City coverage.

  • Just having someone in DC asking questions from our POV is a constructive advocacy move, in addition to the journalistic value. In time, the electeds may come to anticipate the questions, and from there it’s a short hop to incorporating the answers into policy. Best wishes to Elana. I’ll read your work with interest.

  • Congrats to both Streetsblog and Elana Schor. Talent shuffling between two of my favorite blogs!

  • Edward Greenberg

    Well, I hope that Ms. Shor will pay close attention to the issues raised by Duncan Black in regards to transportation.

    He makes what seems to be the crucial point, that the discussion makes no sense without the context of local develoment planning and zoning. Coming from this direction it turns the topic of mode into a secondary issue. That seems right to me.

  • Well, yes, Edward, but it’s hard to change local development without a pro-transit constituency. That’s hardly a secondary issue. Chicken and egg.

  • Oh, and yes, so far I like Elana’s reporting very much. Welcome!

    To expand on what Glenn said, I think it would be good to know about federal decisions that affect us, and how we can affect those decisions – that same chicken and her egg again.

    I’m particularly interested in reform of the FRA standards for “heavy rail” passenger vehicles. But I imagine she’ll look at a lot of other things.

  • gecko

    Key transportation professionals should be confronted to explain exactly why they do not think that human powered and hybrid human-electric powered transportation is serious transportation.

  • yersi

    I have to say I did not like her reporting when she was at TPM, she tried too hard to make it into a gossipy Wonkette-knockoff instead of a serious inquisitive blog. Many of the regulars seemed to have problems with her as well.

  • Mike

    My belated 2 cents – re your observation that “Streetsblog tends to work best and engage readers most when we focus on the hyper-local and hyper-personal side of policy issues”, I wouldn’t judge the impact of a blog post based solely on how many comments in generates. An emotionally resonant post isn’t the same as a mentally resonant post – at least in my experience, the blog posts that most expand my knowledge or inspire an epiphany often don’t elicit much of a response from me – mainly, I’m thinking “wow, that was really helpful” – and there’s not much more to say.

    And I think this applies to your “big picture” coverage including federal policy.

  • dennis

    Elana, I saw you on MSNBC today and you are awesome,thanks for standing up for people everywhere…Much love and respect to you!!!

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