This week, California Watch staffers crowded into CIR’s tiny conference room to meet with two guests, Laura Scott and Katherine Lawrence, who had arrived from Denver for the day.

They’re principals in PingVision, the Web design firm we have chosen from among several excellent candidates to design and develop California Watch’s new Web site. PingVision’s clients have included BlogHer, Popular Science, the New York Public Library, the Stanford University Center for Internet and Society and Red Blue America.

There was a sense of urgency in the room – and not just because Laura and Katherine’s plane had been delayed. The launch date for our Web site – and the formal launch of California Watch – is set for early November, which gives PingVision about a month to get the site up and running.

The Web site will be the only one devoted to statewide investigative and other in-depth reporting about California.

Mark Katches, California Watch’s editorial director, articulated a broad and ambitious vision for the site. A major focus would be to highlight solutions. It would showcase the blogs that all California Watch bloggers will begin writing in the next several weeks.

“We want this to be a place that people will check in on several times a day,” he said.

The site also will house searchable databases and be a “one-stop center” for anyone seeking information in California on state and federal campaign contributions, lobbying, business licenses and more.

The countdown has begun. Watch out for our new site in a month or so from now.

Louis Freedberg

Louis Freedberg was formerly executive director of the California Media Collaborative, whose goal was to devise new strategies for coverage of key California issues. The Collaborative joined forces with CIR in May 2009. Until August 2007, Freedberg worked at the San Francisco Chronicle in a variety of roles: columnist and member of its editorial board; Washington correspondent during the presidency of Bill Clinton; and higher education reporter. He was a senior editor at Pacific News Service, now New America Media, where he established and directed Pacific Youth Press. He was the founder and director of Youth News in Oakland, which trained high school students as radio news reporters. He has written and reported for a wide range of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post and National Public Radio. He has reported from diverse regions of the world, including Southern Africa, the former Soviet Union and Central America.. He was the recipient of a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford and an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship. He has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in psychology from Yale University.