For Barry Friedland, it's a world of biased blogs and news stories passed through a filter of reporters and their editors.
The 25-year Costa Mesa resident wants to provide an impartial perspective to help people see and think for themselves.
To do this, he has taken a video camera and some self-initiation and come up with Costa Mesa Brief, a recently launched YouTube channel that hosts full videos of city events.
The aerospace engineer said he hopes his audio-video documentation will help residents "really know what's going on," so they can form their own opinions.
By seeing and hearing an entire event — not a condensed version presented in a newspaper story or an opinion posted on a blog — Friedland said residents will get more context, such as the speaker's tone and demeanor.
"I want to stay as apolitical as I can on this," he said. "There are so many strong sides on the political equation."
Friedland said that while he may have some opinions in keeping with the views of the City Council majority — which is seeking to reform city employees' wages, benefits and pensions — he aims to keep such sentiment out of the videos. He's using his own video equipment, a free YouTube account, and doesn't "expect or want any money from anyone."
Friedland doesn't plan to add commentary or debate on topics, but comments about the videos will be allowed — "as long as they are civil."
He's also hoping that by posting his videos, they may help lessen the divisiveness caused by other's agendas, hidden or not, and inflammatory statements "based on nothing but rumor after rumor after rumor."
"People demonize people in power," Friedland said. "I've never been sympathetic of a politician in my life until I started paying attention to Costa Mesa politics."
They're not such "bad guys," he said, adding that impressions could be changed if the public could meet these officials.
So far, Costa Mesa Brief has three videos: U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's Aug. 8 speech to the Newport Mesa Tea Party; Mayor Jim Righeimer's Aug. 1 Meet the Mayor session, where he discussed problems with rehabilitation homes in residential areas; and a nearly two-minute speech by Righeimer about the harm caused by certain city motels.
Friedland said his next video may be another Meet the Mayor session, though he's open to taping all perspectives, including Councilwoman Wendy Leece's town hall meetings.
"I look forward to working with Barry on projects which highlight the great things going on in Costa Mesa," Leece said. "I hope his venture unites us as a community."
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger called Friedland's efforts "interesting and innovative."
"It's a private citizen recording what it is," he said. "A large percentage of the population in this city like the unfiltered nature of our leaders describing their ideas."
Friedland also aims to cover stories ignored by "major media sources" and said he will never record video without permission.
"I really don't like politics that much," he said. "I don't like politicians all that much, either, but to change this country, you have to start in your own backyard. And I think we all need to say this country is going down a very bad road.
"I can't march on Washington, but I can go to City Hall and make a change."