The Failure To Get The News Out About Problems In The St Louis Neighborhood
There is a great deal of talk about the lack of local coverage in the Los Angeles Times today. Most notably, there was quite a stir during the recent strike in Los Angeles that shut down the Port of LA. But what exactly is this strike about? How does it relate to the Los Angeles news? Are things getting better or worse in terms of local coverage in the print media here in Southern California? Let’s take a look at some of these issues and try to answer some questions for ourselves.
Many people are very concerned with the lack of coverage in the Los Angeles Times today, both in the city and in the national newspaper. Many people feel that the local newspaper has a special responsibility to the people of Southern California and a special responsibility to report the news objectively and fairly. Many also feel that the Los Angeles newspaper is in the business of promoting entertainment in the city and surrounding areas, and they are therefore duty bound to report the events in the community, no matter what their source is. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. The Los Angeles Times has often been guilty of selectively reporting stories that focus on certain elements of the local culture and community.
Take, for example, the recent story in the L.A. Times which focused on the West Hollywood neighborhood’s efforts to get a name change to honor its famous resident, John Travolta. As you might expect, a local real estate agent spoke out against the move, claiming, “Travolta is not a popular choice in the Beverly Hills market.” When pressed as to why this agent’s business would be affected if the actor were to move out, the real estate agent pivoted to his real point: “The quality of life is just not there anymore.” Of course, many readers were quick to deride this response as knee-jerk and unrealistic. However, for those who are watching for gentrifying trends in the L.A. area, this particular complaint was somewhat surprising.
Another example of selective reporting in the Los Angeles Newsroom concerns the school district in Norwalk, CA. A recent editorial featured an interview with school board president Barbara Williams, who received criticism from the parents of one of her students for failing to make sure the students’ lunch was served in a safe location. Williams defended her decision by saying that it was part of her job to make sure that all students were in a safe space when they were lunching. Yet, neither the Norwalk Parents Association nor the Norwalk News reported any details about the location that could have led parents to this conclusion.
A third example comes from the San Diego Union-News, which recently published an article focusing on the Board of Education’s decision to review teacher performance. Although the Union-News made sure to quote the experts who disagreed with the evaluation, they failed to mention any of the factors that can affect teacher performance. For instance, did you know that a teacher can be given a higher grade because she had helped raise a student from a low-income background? (That’s right-and no one will know because the teacher is not allowed to discuss these factors with anyone but herself.)
Finally, there was a story published in the St. Louis Today about the long delays in fixing sewers in the city. Although the chief of safety for the city acknowledged that the problem needed to be addressed, he also told reporters that it would take “a huge number” of workers over a long period of time to properly fix all the broken sewers. Unfortunately, none of the workers were visible to the local news reporters, who failed to ask about their qualifications or references. This lack of clarity makes it impossible for residents to hold their elected officials accountable. Hopefully, next time you read a St. Louis Today story, you will pay closer attention to the information that is provided rather than rely solely on the opinion of the commentator.