Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ask The Union's Editor

Make up your own mind.

Yubanet pointed to a recent Sac Bee article on widespread contamination of foothill household wells:
More than half of the 513 foothill wells sampled [in Yuba and El Dorado counties] contained bacteria or chemicals such as pesticides and fuel ingredients that do not occur naturally in groundwater...
[...The] region's geology renders wells more susceptible to contamination.
The topsoil is relatively thin compared with that in the Valley, and the foothills bedrock is heavily fractured, giving contaminants on the surface a quick ride down to groundwater tapped for drinking.

Yubanet also linked to the Sac Bee articles on asbestos in dog lungs and likely asbestos in road gravel.
(Also see 1998 Bee series, Feb. 2000 Sci. Am.)

To our knowledge, neither news has received any mention in The Union.

We asked the acting editor why, and got this response:
These are indeed good stories, and we could definitely visit them ourselves. The Bee has a good staff that can more easily take the time to do regionwide stories. Unless the AP wire picks up these stories, we can only attempt to re-create them if we feel it's necessary. We've focused largely on specific cases of contamination, largely from the remnants of the mining industry. But, like I said, that's not to say these aren't good ongoing stories to look into.

>Do you:
>a) have any arrangement with The Bee to reprint their stories, or

Nope. Just with the AP and the L.A. Times-Washington Post service.

>b) consider it appropriate to write stories about
>stories that appeared in another paper?

That varies case to case. Large enterprise pieces by metro papers are generally pretty tough to reproduce from scratch, but then there are stories such as the chronic foothill ozone problems that both we and the Bee have covered repeatedly in recent years. The easy answer is, there are no easy answers when it comes to how you allocate limited news resources.

Now it's your turn:
Got any questions? answers? Please share.

p.s. Saturday's editorial surprised us.

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