How bad is the L.A. Times‘s coverage of local issues? Chris Reed tells that the answer is: really, really bad:
Four weeks ago, I wrote the first version of this post to express my utter amazement that the Los Angeles Times — by far the biggest newspaper in Southern California — had failed to inform its readers that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — by far the biggest water supplier in the region — was preparing to retroactively increase the pensions of its entire staff by 25 percent at a time when it was in the middle of a two-year, 31 percent increase in the rates it charges water districts serving 19 million people from Ventura to Riverside to San Diego. The MWD’s pension system was already $400 million underfunded. Now MWD bosses, who stood to reap huge gains personally, were moving to increase the unfunded liability by $70 million.
If this is not a story to the L.A. Times’ 900,000 readers, what is? It’s stupid public policy. It’s mendacious public policy. It’s the sort of public policy that normally the Times would decry.
What was amazing four weeks ago stands as literally incredible today. With the MWD board vote on the 25 percent pension spike just a few days away, a Nexis and Google search shows the LAT still hasn’t told its readers about the proposal.
Yes, that is pathetic.
Linking Reed’s post, Kevin Roderick did his own search and came up empty as well — while finding plenty of coverage in the Orange County Register.
I did my own search — and, to make commenter Foo Bar happy, I repeated it on Google to pick up anything in the blogs. I couldn’t find a thing. The paper had a story three days ago on state employees who collect pensions and a salary at the same time — but the MWD vote and its proposed $70 million in unfunded liabilities (a story sitting right under the editors’ noses) appears conspicuously absent from the paper and the blogs. (Even if the Google search somehow missed a blog entry, this is a story that belongs in the paper . . . period.)
And why is this happening? Reed rejects the explanation of ideology in favor of a more obvious answer:
I don’t think it reflects ideology. The LAT has done some good stuff on excessive benefits in the L.A. school district and has supported pension reform.
So that pretty much leaves rank, abject incompetence.
I can’t think of a better explanation myself.