The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
It feels too small and inadequate to say it, but: It sure is a strange time to be a journalist in America.
The election has stirred up a lot of anxiety for journalists everywhere. There is, obviously, the fact that national journalists got this election so very wrong. There are the threats President-elect Trump has made against journalists and calls to open up U.S. libel laws, making it easier to sue journalists and their employers.
The latest development shaking many journos’ confidence is the revelation that many news consumers, apparently, are stunningly susceptible to fake news.
And yet my biggest source of journalism angst is none of these things.
It’s that there are smart, curious people who live in San Diego and who care about news – and they’ve never heard of Voice of San Diego. I meet them all the time. They’re neighbors who still pay for two papers to be delivered to their homes. They’re people in my workout class who browse 15 national websites a day.
One of the ironies, for me anyway, of wrestling with this election outcome has been feeling intensely anxious about the future of national news and yet deeply proud of the investigative work we’ve done locally. I have zero doubt that Maya Srikrishnan and Andy Keatts’ year-plus run investigating the Lilac Hills development contributed to Measure B’s defeat. I believe we vetted and analyzed the Chargers stadium proposal better than anyone else.
I did not mean for this to sound like a commercial. But I’m not sorry if it does. I know that among my friends, many folks have been circulating ideas for ways to advance and protect causes they believe in in the wake of the election. If you’re doing this too, good for you. Please, please add this to the list: Tell your friends about VOSD. Send them links to stories you think they might like. Get your husband to subscribe to the Morning Report. Forward an event to a colleague who might be interested. Evangelize.
Yes, it’s frustrating as hell to know that there are people out there who read fake news and believe it. But it’s more frustrating to know there are people who could be impacted and empowered by the work we do but who simply don’t know it exists.
In an interview with Lenny this week, author Zadie Smith – as she tends to do – got right to the point: “Writing can be hard, but to write and not be read is painful.”
What VOSD Learned This Week
I did it, you guys. I got through Ashly McGlone’s entire FieldTurf investigation without using TURF WARS! or FIELD DAY! in a headline. It took a lot of restraint, hard work and determination and I expect your congratulations to flood my inbox.
Seriously, though, this series shines a harsh spotlight on the failures of a private company and the ways they’ve impacted taxpayers, who’ve been left holding the bag for a defective product.
FieldTurf’s local sales representative often pushed schools to shell out even more money after their fields deteriorated – and in at least one instance, offered a kickback to a local teacher in exchange for help securing a deal.
Despite the fact that fields have been falling apart after just a few years, San Diego Unified still considers FieldTurf the gold standard. It has plans for dozens more FieldTurf fields in the coming years, and other turf companies have not been allowed to compete for jobs in the district.
San Diego Unified isn’t alone. Schools across San Diego County sole-sourced jobs to FieldTurf, despite state rules requiring public works projects to be put out to bid.
If you’re in need of a Cliff’s Notes version to the series, we’ve got you covered.
Mario Koran has kicked off a cool project enlisting community stakeholders to help cover bilingual education issues.
Public buildings in San Diego are supposed to come with public art. Two new fire stations don’t have any, and Kinsee Morlan explains why.
I interviewed outgoing Assemblyman Brian Jones about being an endangered species (aka, a California Republican) in the Legislature.
Scott and Andy spoke with incoming Councilwoman Barbara Bry about the ABCs – that is, Airbnb, business and the Chargers.
What I’m Reading
• One of my favorite writers wrote a wonderful essay about one of my favorite movies. (Criterion Collection)
• This is a good dive into the role rural resentment played in the election. (Citylab)
• The downfall of Theranos has been dramatic all along. But the inside story of how a young whistleblower helped draw scrutiny to the company – and blew up his own family in the process – is pretty epic. (Wall Street Journal)
• We hear so much about the secrecy of the federal government. But state and local governments are growing increasingly secretive, with virtually no consequences. (Center for Investigative Reporting)
• A wonderful appreciation of Gwen Ifill. (The Undefeated)
Line of the Week
“Surely, shooting a fleeing man in the back hurts the presumption of white strength? The sad plight of grown white men, crouching beneath their (better) selves, to slaughter the innocent during traffic stops, to push black women’s faces into the dirt, to handcuff black children. Only the frightened would do that. Right?” – Toni Morrison reflects on the election aftermath.