It was a little more than a week ago that President Donald Trump stood before a crowd of cheering supporters, decried the media as “dishonest,” un-American and even suggested the crowd should turn on reporters.
Fast-forward a few days, and a catastrophic storm hit Houston.
On top of the countless government workers, law enforcement officers, volunteers, doctors and nurses who went above and beyond to help those in harm’s way, there were local journalists.
The Houston Chronicle staff has been capturing stories of heroics, loss, anguish and fellowship all week – check out some of these vignettes from across the city. On top of reporting in dangerous conditions, the Chronicle has been delivering thousands of copies of the paper to local shelters for free, so residents can keep up with the news, and have some semblance of routine as they read their paper each day.
And, as it always does during emergencies, radio has played a crucial role in disseminating information.
There was important journalism being done before the storm hit, too. Check out this major project published last year by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune that predicted exactly the type of chemical explosions in the face of a major hurricane that we saw come to pass following Harvey.
Of course, journalists – especially when they’re working in high-stress environments – get things wrong.
But I’ve certainly never met a journalist who’s in it for the money, or the job security. Even if it’s a job that can reward vanity, it’s simply not something you can do sustainably without caring deeply about the community you’re covering.
Journalists in Texas might not have piles of money to donate to Harvey victims (by the way, Trump has since backed away from his pledge to donate $1 million of his own money), but they’re contributing plenty — and through their actions and their work they’re revealing the president’s characterization of the media for the petulant propaganda it is.
What VOSD Learned This Week
For months, government officials sputtered with typical bureaucratic issues like permits and pilot projects as an atypical, deadly hepatitis outbreak claimed several lives.
After Lisa Halverstadt’s initial story published, the city and county vowed to move quickly to set up hand-washing stations downtown.
Officials had a specific pitch when they sold the public on the Carlsbad desalination plant, and the very expensive water it would produce: The cost is worth it for the assurance of a reliable source of water. But as Ry Rivard reported this week, that water is not as reliable as we all thought.
For now, though, San Diego still has more water than it even needs. It has so much, in fact, that the Water Authority is trying to figure out how to drive demand from other water agencies so water doesn’t sit stagnant in its pipes, making the water undrinkable.
I had so much fun putting together this podcast on Jazzercise and its founder for our new I Made it in San Diego show. (Featuring a special guest appearance by my mom.)
If you need one more podcast episode to get you through the holiday weekend, check out this exit interview Scott did with Stephen Puetz, the mayor’s former chief of staff.
If a big state Supreme Court ruling didn’t change the game entirely for California’s two-thirds vote requirement for special taxes, it at least opened a door for someone to challenge it. (Over at CityLab, I wrote about the ruling’s potential impact on transit funding across the state.) Scott Lewis and Andy Keatts went over the decision – and separately, lacrosse! – on this week’s VOSD podcast.
In other state news, lots of people are wary of California’s plan for how it will hold schools and students accountable.
And in the Sacramento Report, we broke down Gov. Jerry Brown’s visit to San Diego to urge employers to hire former convicts, and why Sen. Toni Atkins’ big housing bill is in trouble.
What I’m Reading
• Is there a word for something that’s amusing and sad at the same time? Lolpressing? That’s how I felt reading this story about women entrepreneurs who created a fake male cofounder whom they found developers much more eager to work with. (Fast Company)
• There are a lot of thinkpieces out this week on Taylor Swift and her new single, many of them tying in context about the current state of our politics. This is the only one you need to read. (The Ringer)
• Sarah Posner is one of the best reporters on religion and politics in the country. Her take on televangelist Joel Osteen’s Hurricane Harvey debacle is not to be missed. (Rolling Stone)
• This is a crazy story of a teenage internet troll seeking asylum in America, which begs the question: “Will America’s first troll government take in one of his own?” (Buzzfeed)
• Forever 21 and other retailers use “a tangled labyrinth of middlemen” to avoid paying workers – many of whom work in factories in downtown Los Angeles – minimum wage. (Los Angeles Times)
Line of the Week
“I’m trying to find a new word for troubled because I seem to be saying it a lot. My friend said, just say ‘hot mess.’” – Sen. Kamala Harris