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When another lady journo in town this week passed along a Los Angeles Times story, with a short note complaining about how no women were included, I immediately started defending the reporter in my mind.
Yes, women are vastly underrepresented as experts in news stories, and this is something I care deeply about. But I’m also a lifelong journalist. I know what it’s like on deadline. Sometimes the only sources who call you back are men. Or maybe you did talk to some women, but their quotes were unusable for whatever reason. It’s hard to know what got left on the cutting room floor and why.
But then I read the story.
It’s a collection of reactions to the U-T being purchased by Tribune Co. It features 10 – 10! – men and no women. That means it’s quite a stretch to assume it’s just the result of some of those factors I mentioned above. You really have to go out of your way to find 10 men to cram into a story. And you have to go even further out of your way to write a story that’s presumably about San Diego’s leaders and what they think and not include any women. Just a reminder: Women in San Diego make up four of nine City Council spots, including the Council president, they run the police department, the district attorney’s office, the U.S. attorney’s office, the San Diego branch of the state Justice Department, and oh yeah, they run the motherfucking legislature of the most populous state in the country.
What’s also interesting about the omission is that when I started thinking about who I might’ve called for such a story, the two people who immediately came to mind were both women. They’re the only people I could think of who have solid experience in both local politics and in news, and thus would be most qualified to talk about the change. So I asked them myself: What’s your reaction to the sale of the U-T to Tribune, and what do you think it means for the paper’s future?
Here’s what they said:
“I welcome the L.A. Times back to San Diego. I expect the future Union-Tribune to provide diverse voices and different points of view. The Tribune Company has historically been more thorough when covering stories and has a less divisive and polarizing editorial slant. Hopefully, U-T San Diego writers/editors will have more supportive and objective management – and ultimately a greater support from San Diego readers.” – Councilwoman Marti Emerald, who worked in journalism for 30 years before entering office
“The Tribune Company values quality journalism, and that’s why I’m excited that it is purchasing the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Tribune Company also understands how to operate a media company, which is essential in ensuring the financial viability of our leading newspaper. I worked for the Times as a business writer from 1978-1984 both in Los Angeles and in San Diego when it published a special edition with San Diego news. I’ve also been a business columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, and I was the first editor of Voice of San Diego. I care deeply about good journalism.” – Barbara Bry, a tech entrepreneur and City Council District 1 candidate
Get a Jump on Next Week’s News
Before we jump into what happened this week, I’m here to offer you a vision of the news future. Next week, probably Monday, the mayor’s stadium task force will unveil its big plan for a new Chargers stadium.
Liam Dillon has an excellent primer on the fine print everyone should be looking for in any potential deal.
What VOSD Learned This Week
President Ronald Reagan made not one but two surprise cameos in VOSD stories this week. That’s what happens, apparently, when you set your sights on East County.
That’s the place where residents of tiny Alpine have lobbied for a high school of their own, and been repeatedly denied.
It’s the place where Mark Arabo, who runs a trade group for corner liquor stores, rose to prominence as a national spokesman for Iraqi Christians. (Check out Liam Dillon’s three part profile on Arabo here, here and here. And Caty Green distilled one big finding from Dillon’s reporting: Arabo has apparently flipped on his opposition to a minimum wage increase.)
It’s the place where San Diego Gas & Electric is making massive solar panel installations to help meet it’s goal of using more renewable power. Thanks to some state rules, rooftop solar panels don’t really count toward that goal.
And it’s the place where Republicans are fixing to have a big showdown between County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and state Sen. Joel Anderson, who’s running to oust her.
What Else VOSD Learned
• Civic San Diego’s continued fight to stay relevant has hit a conflict-of-interest snag.
• People really want to know more about rooftop solar panels.
• Carl DeMaio thinks city leaders need to answer for dropping the ball on the Convention Center expansion.
What I’m Reading
All of the best and most provocative stories this week seemed to center on death:
• Who says Twitter can’t be art? This series of tweets by writer and poet Saeed Jones about the deaths of young black men at the hands of the police is the best writing you’ll read this week.
• Journos and politicos have been buzzing all week about this Seymour Hersh piece poking big holes in the White House’s version of the death of Osama bin Laden.
• (Obligatory spoiler alert) Anne Helen Peterson celebrates Betty Draper, Difficult Woman just before her impending “Mad Men” death.
• The New York Times Magazine has a haunting and emotional story on a celebrated thinker who chose to end her life before it became ravaged by Alzheimer’s.
• ESPN does a deep dive into the young, beautiful University of Pennsylvania athlete whose life looked perfect on Instagram, until she suddenly ended it.
• Journalist Seyward Darby has written a very moving essay about confronting mortality after she survived the Amtrak crash this week.
• And, since this is becoming quite a downer, I’ll throw in a flash of vitality: DAD BODS! A new First Puppy!
Line of the Week
“On the one hand, the two influential tech CEOs are close friends and business associates; on the other hand, Musk is genuinely worried that Page might just lead to the destruction of humanity as we know it.” – a Mashable article on Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Google co-founder Larry Page, proving that HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is basically a work of nonfiction.