From John Shore blogging at the Christian Left, advice I can strongly endorse:
That final point is well taken; this is an increasingly great time time to be a crooked politician. No more snooping reporters asking bothersome questions about expense accounts and behind-door meetings. No more impertinent requests for public records. No more "public watchdogs" sniffing around city hall, digging into corners where they might unearth meaty bones best left buried.
We hear much talk these days about "citizen journalists." And it's good that we do; in some very real ways, citizen journalists are the only journalists left. The big dailies aren't covering city hall anymore. So if you want city hall covered, you have to cover it yourself. And who better to do that than you and citizens like you? Nobody cares about local politics like local citizens. Nobody can. The adage is true for a reason; all politics is local.
If you're a blogger, start sitting in on, and writing about, city council meetings. Get to know who's who in your local city government. Get on the email lists coming out your city and county's primary government offices. Show up at press conferences. Attend public forums. Raise questions. Insist on explanations. Request private meetings. Help the people who work for the office of the mayor and other local public officials to remember that they work for you and people just like you. Help restore the balance of power between the local citizenry and the people who were elected to represent them.
And don't go it alone, either. That's too difficult; there's too much ground to cover. Instead, reach out to your fellow informed local bloggers. Join or form a coalition of local politico bloggers such that, after awhile, your group becomes the go-to place for people in your area wanting to understand what's really happening with their tax dollars and local resources.
Be thorough; be precise; be professional; work in coordination with others. And stay at it. You'll get the results you're after. You will force politicians and government officials to be as accountable as they should be. You'll provide an invaluable service to your community.
You'll make a difference.
The fourth estate isn't dead. It's just got a whole new set of offices. And one of the best of those offices could be as close as your kitchen table.
It's not as if most of us have jobs anymore, right?