It's a tough world out there I know, but even a bad newspaper is better than none. Obviously the era of the watchdog daily is a thing of the past now, and very little has arisen from those ashes to pick up the fallen banner. At one point it was hoped that blogs like The Tattler might fill the gap, but nobody else answered the call for long. Even Bill Coburn crapped out. Can't figure out why. I certainly enjoy doing this.
Something often lacking in Pasadena Star News articles are explanations about how things got as bad as they have. They certainly covered the notion that Sierra Madre has a water infrastructure problem, but hardly a peep about how that came to be.
They have also acknowledged that Sierra Madre has a debt problem, but did they ever tell you how that happened? Or who might be responsible? Not really.
And their coverage of the Sierra Madre Library debacle? You might have come away after reading about that thinking they were doing publicity for the Friends of the Library. And who knows, maybe that is the case. You could certainly fool me.
But what really gets my dander up is the Star News's utter dependency on "The Quote." You know, that self-serving sentence or two from the concerned politician, obtained over the phone, that is somehow supposed to lend credence to the reporter's work. And no matter who the reporter on any given article might be, they rarely dare to question such words from on high.
Here are examples. The following two quotes come from a recent PSN article titled "Sierra Madre: Water rules are about to change" (link). This was supposed to be an expose' of the draconian water use penalties City Hall was clobbering people with not that long ago. Things got so bad that the residents revolted, causing the city to back off. Here is the resulting white wash from Mayor Arizmendi:
Can anybody please explain to me what the above is actually supposed to mean? Wasn't it a water rate study that led to those ridiculous water fines in the first place? Are you saying that study wasn't holistic enough? Or that you're willing to start at the beginning and perhaps make the same mistakes all over again?
In that same article Gene Goss took his golly shucks empathy shtick to an entirely new level when he dropped this small ball of thunder.
The water fines weren't meant to punish people? Really, Professor Goss? Then what exactly were they for? Soul mulching? And while it is great that you're sorry and all, how deeply are you digging into your pockets to pay all those folks back?
You'd hope that a newspaper reporter would want to question an offbeat statement like that, right?
A true whopper of a quote, one that literally begs for a follow-up question or two, but got none of course, was this flaming box of bromides left on our collective psychic doorstep by John Harabedian. The Star News article is titled "Sierra Madre decides fate of controversial Darling house demolition" (link), and it went this way:
Uh, sure. That should be enough. I think I've made my point.