The Morning Report
San Diego news and info
you need to take on the day.
We lost a good one this week.
ESPN announced Friday that it was shuttering, its longform sports and pop culture website. I won’t sell it short by saying that Grantland had the best sports and pop culture writing on the internet — it had the best writing on the internet, period.
I saw someone make a good analogy on Twitter: Grantland was the “Friday Night Lights”of the internet. It wasn’t loved widely; it didn’t generate huge traffic. But it was loved deeply by those who frequented it; it made people who cared nothing about sports become invested in sports narratives because they were just that good, it was every journalist’s not-so-secret dream job.
I love sports, but my favorite thing about Grantland was how much it drove home the idea that the best journalism — the sharpest insights, the most beautiful writing — doesn’t have to be solely applied to Very. Serious. Subjects. It can apply to Drake’s dancing, to crass teddy bear movies, to internet memes.
I’ll miss it terribly, and I’ll try to cling to the message it consistently drove home: You can make anything into a story, so long as you write it really, really, really well.
What VOSD Learned This Week
You know it’s gonna be a good week when you kick things off by appropriating Salt-N-Pepa lyrics to apply to whale sex.
That happened thanks to Scott Lewis’s piece examining SeaWorld’s strange response to a Coastal Commission condition that the company stop its orca breeding program in order to obtain a permit for larger enclosures for the animals. Whales have a right to breed, SeaWorld argued. But whether whales have rights and which ones should be prioritized is probably not a road SeaWorld wants to travel to far down.
Indeed, Lisa Halverstadt revealed this week just how bad things have gotten over the last year for SeaWorld in the wake of continued fallout from “Blackfish.” Remember, the city has a stake in SeaWorld’s success, because the company pays the city more when business is booming. New city numbers show that “Lease payments, which are based on a host of the park’s revenues, fell 16 percent from 2013 to 2014.”
Earlier this year, Ashly McGlone and Mario Koran investigated how mountains of bond money were being spent and turned up some interesting findings: Asbestos was billed as a major reason to pass the bonds, but officials don’t think it’s an issue anymore. Big, shiny stadiums keep getting built even as classroom ceilings leak onto students’ heads.
Now McGlone examines the various roles played by Andy Berg, the man who chairs the committee that serves as a guardian of all that taxpayer money. By day, he lobbies for electrical workers – people who profit from bond construction.
Let’s take a little trip around the county.
There are 11 law enforcement agencies in San Diego County – four already have police body cameras, and the rest are in various stages of considering them.
In Chula Vista, officials are keeping up the fight to bring a four-year university to town despite years of setbacks.
In City Heights, a new group is tired of waiting for the art the community was promised to help make up for the intrusion of the Interstate 15 construction and is taking things into its own hands.
This week was the big meeting in which the NFL pretended to care what San Diegans think about moving the Chargers. Scott Lewis offers a reminder of why Mark Fabiani, the Chargers spokesman who was vilified during the meeting, is not the real problem. On the podcast, Lewis and Andy Keatts discuss the, uh, enthusiastic video about a new stadium that the city released this week. On another special podcast, Ray Ellis, who’s running for City Council gave us a surprise: He doesn’t support the mayor’s plan for dealing with the Chargers.
It turns out state authorities have wide leverage to control how people use water – and it’s likely they’ll keep restricting use past the current set of deadlines.
Speaking of the state, this week’s Sacramento Report examines criticisms of Prop. 47.
What I’m Reading
• An infuriating reminder that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to Congress – because lawmakers get to exempt themselves from the laws they create – and how damaging that is to our history. (New York Times)
• No outlet is as good at re-examining old crimes and the flawed investigations behind them as Texas Monthly. Their latest is a fascinating look at a convicted sex offender whose offense might have been nothing more than a crude joke.
• I feel a bit like a traitor intro-ing this story – a lovely, funny, sad essay about life at the end of your 20s – by saying the headline doesn’t really do it justice, but there you have it. (Buzzfeed)
• Chris Hansen of “To Catch a Predator” fame is still out there catching predators – without a TV show. (New Republic)
Line of the Week
“She’ll leave the game a legend, a warrior for the sport and for female athletes, a frustrating and flawed FIFA Ballon d’Or winner. She is an imperfect athlete for an imperfect game, but that’s soccer. That’s sports.” – From a wonderful Vice lookback at Abby Wambach’s incredible career.