A few weeks shy of 10 years ago, I was sitting in my college newspaper office when the angry calls started rolling in.

“There is a hurricane happening, don’t you know that’s more important than some stupid (insert whatever mundane campus events we were covering then – student protests and football and some dustup between professors and football, probably). WHY AREN’T YOU COVERING THAT???

I remember feeling enraged. Enraged that anyone thought we really believed our little campus bubble to be more important than Hurricane Katrina, which we all knew even in those first terrifying hours was one of the biggest news events we’d ever encounter in our lifetimes. And enraged anyone thought we should be covering something so far removed from what a campus newspaper covers – not to mention we didn’t exactly have the resources to pack up, skip class and head half a continent away.

I still don’t think a handful of 20-year-olds in Los Angeles bore much, or any, responsibility for covering Katrina. But with 10 years of making news judgments under my belt, I can see now that a lot of that rage was misplaced.

That’s because it’s journalists’ job to communicate their organizations’ priorities – the stuff they cover, the stuff they don’t, the stuff they’re obsessed with, the stuff they’re dying to figure out – to readers. If an audience has a hard time figuring out what your focus is, that’s usually your fault, not theirs.

So, as a friendly reminder, VOSD is around to explain the news that’s out there regarding San Diego personalities and policies, and to investigate what’s not. We don’t do a lot of traditional daily news stories, like cover speeches or press conferences.

I was reminded of all of this, by the way, because of Buzzfeed’s excellent series of stories this week pegged to Hurricane Katrina’s 10-year anniversary. Check those out here.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Other people’s trash was our treasure this week.

First, Liam Dillon chronicled the long, strange journey the small city of Carson has taken toward building an NFL stadium on or near a trash dump.

Then there are the trash dumps a little closer to home, which Ry Rivard examined. There are quite a few of them, and even more are planned. San Diegans have been told for years that we’re perpetually on the verge of running out of room for trash and should build more landfills. Turns out, though, we’ve got tons of space and less and less trash.

♦ ♦ ♦

For a week dead smack in the middle of summer break, we sure had a lot of schools news this week.

The strangest story involves San Diego Unified school board president Marne Foster, who hosted a fundraiser for her sons and might have directed donations through a nonprofit, which is problematic at best.

Other stories focus on actual school buildings, and accountability.

Earlier this year we drew from the school district’s own data to highlight the 10 district schools parents avoid most. Memorial Prep in Logan Heights topped the list. Now, Councilman David Alvarez, a Memorial Prep alumnus, wants to tear down the school and build a new one. That hasn’t always gone well.

Then there are the schools whose buildings will be around for quite a while. About four years ago, San Diego Unified announced grand plans to outfit 80 schools with solar panels. It’s only delivered on about half of them, and has encountered a series of setbacks as it’s tried to ramp up its use of solar power. Despite that, the district plans to spend even more money on solar in the near future.

Finally, Mario Koran tried to figure out why school starts so damn early.

What Else VOSD Learned

 The only thing left on the table to offer the NFL is … general fund money!

• The Tourism Authority met its goal for hotel room bookings for the first time since at least 2012.

 A new nonprofit news venture (sounds familiar) has set up shop in Sacramento.

What I’m Reading

• Just crazy: It’s looking more and more like the LAPD lied and doctored audio recordings to persuade the L.A. Times to fire one of its own cartoonists who criticized the department. (A New Domain)

• Atlas Obscura revisits a piece of Oregon lore – it involves a weird cult, great small town names and Taco Time, an Oregon fast-food treasure. Can you tell I love my home state?

 Gene Demby on being The Only One in the Room. (NPR)

• When a rapper starts a parenting column, the results are delightful. (Vice)

 The New Yorker profiles Charnice Milton, a young, black reporter who was doing the hard work of covering her under-covered community when she was killed by a bullet meant for someone else.

• The New York Times picks up on an unpublished article by Lt. Col. Kate Germano, a Marine officer who once commanded a Marine recruiting station here in San Diego, in which she argues the Marines relax standards for women – which ensures their male peers won’t respect them as much.

• L.A. Weekly’s Hillel Aaron dug into the story of the murdered mayor of tiny Bell Gardens and discovered an insane web of domestic violence, adultery and small-town political dealing.

Line of the Week

Part I: Human Man or Robot?

“The Donald’s persona is a character of his own creation — honed over decades of method acting that eventually supplanted whatever human-like personality he once possessed.” – Buzzfeed’s McCay Coppins, a master Trump chronicler. (See previously: this gem.)

Part II: Human Woman or Robot?

“Kardashian is also at once extraordinarily human — don’t you want to hear about the way she does her makeup? — and a master of what critic Jerry Saltz has called the ‘new uncanny,’ or art that blurs the line between human and a robot pretending to be a human.” – From Rolling Stone’s profile of Kim Kardashian West

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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