Introducing “Political Payne”

Hello, dear reader, and welcome to a new endeavor, this website, and the show/blog “Political Payne.” I hope this website will serve as a hub for video and blog reporting and opinion by yours truly, Joe Payne, independent journalist from Santa Maria, California. It’s been a longtime coming, but I’m excited to share my perspective on the Central Coast and the nation and world at large. So many people I know or meet say they “stay out of politics,” or don’t “pay attention to the news,” which is understandable, especially these days. I hope to make politics, the news, and media more accessible for everyone.

Photo by Maxwel Corpuz

A bit about me: I grew up in the Santa Maria Valley, attending Ernest Righetti High School (graduated 2007), where I was an editor for the school newspaper. While still in high school, I began an editorial internship at the Santa Maria Sun, and landed a part time job editing the community calendar. All the while, I wrote under the guidance of the close-knit editorial staff, who mentored and shaped my journalistic skills as I contributed to different sections of the paper. After high school, I was promoted to Arts Editor, managing an entire section of the paper, reporting on events big and small on the Central Coast, from local artists’ first exhibits to interviewing headlining musicians and comedians.

I worked my way up to Managing Editor, overseeing the alternative news weekly for the entirety of 2017 and 2018, pushing the paper to expand its scope, outreach, and impact in our community. I was honored to receive awards for enterprise, business, and health reporting over the years, including a special distinction from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office recognizing reporting on community efforts to address domestic violence. I received that award months after leaving the paper, and more than a year after the story ran, because of the continued impact the piece has had in our community.

And now is as good a time as any, here in April of 2020, as we all do our civic duty of sheltering in place to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, to start my own journalistic outlet, here, and continue to connect and inform our community. For years now, friends and family have told me to “start a podcast” or “do videos” about issues big and small, stories local and national, as I’ve spent many an hour jawing about local history or the news of the day. Most of that time is spent explaining the often-overlooked antecedents or forgotten influences in politics and government, many of which I hope to illuminate in blog and video form.

I also hope to share my passion for the wide variety of interests I know I share with many, from politics to business, the arts and music, to science and natural history in videos, blog posts, and in podcast form. I can’t be sure how quickly or regularly this all will pan out, but whatever content I produce, I promise to give it my best. From boiling down complex issues to condensing local and national news, to producing my own reporting and sharing intimate stories of Central Coasters, you can count on an honest telling of the story and an independent viewpoint. I’m excited to share, and as always, discover fascinating facts, tell histories old and new, and connect with people who share a passion for everything interesting.


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