Tribune Writes Context Story, Los Osos Still Goes Missing!
In it’s March 19 “Second National Sunshine Week, Celebrating America’s Public Records Laws,” the Tribune headlined a quasi follow-up story on the previous one they’d run on the Los Osos CSD’s failure to follow state laws concerning getting public records requests out in the time required. The first story was, as usual, totally missing any context -- no notation that the CSD was, uh, beleaguered by some angry citizens attempting to break all their kneecaps, beset with citizen-sponsored lawsuits, and CSD sponsored lawsuits, and facing regime change, general mangers and office personnel put on leave until certain, uh, back-dated documents could be investigated, preparing agendas and paperwork for about a jillion public meetings, and so forth, that might explain (not excuse, but explain) this failure to get public records out in a timely manner.
Nor was there, in the original story, any attempt to compare the LOCSD’s failures with any other city, until a couple of days later, when this excellent story appeared. Headline, “CITIES HERE BALKING ON DOCUMENTS: Six of the county’s seven cities don’t honor requests for records that the law says they must.”
GOSH, you mean Los Osos isn’t alone? That six other cities, none of whom are going through the kind of turmoil and crushing paperwork problems Los Osos is, ALSO fail to comply with the state law? Well, Quel interesting. There was even a sidebar on a “list of the oldest [federal] pending requests” that have still not been filled, so clearly, this is something that’s very common.
And so I read through this whole new story to see if they’d refer back to the original Los Osos story, IN ORDER TO SET THAT STORY INTO CONTEXT and, naturally, that old horse went missing. Not a peep. Not a reference to Los Osos. Zip.
And so we’re left with the cart before the horse, then the cart shows up and the horse is gone missing. And that, of course is what “spin” is all about – separate cart and horse, lose horse. What “context” is all about is – connect cart, horse, traces, wheels, roadway and driver.
Good “watchdog” papers do the latter. The Tribune, alas, too often does the former.
Not known, now that Knight-Ridder has sold i’s holdings, whether the Trib’s new owners, the McClatchy News folks will bring a different editorial/journalistic ethos to the central coast. One can only hope.