Elk Grove city lacking transparency

Citizen forced to get order to reveal name of dog owner; Will the city continues down this path with a weakened media? McClatchy Inc. annou...

Citizen forced to get order to reveal name of dog owner; Will the city continues down this path with a weakened media?

McClatchy Inc. announced a couple days ago that it will kill the once-weekly Elk Grove section that appears in the Sacramento Bee. With the demise of the Elk Grove section, as well as eight other regional sections, The Elk Grove Citizen is poised to become the dominant media outlet for Elk Grove.

While the death of the Bee’s Elk Grove section represents a personal victory of sorts for Roy Herburger and the staff of the Citizen, it’s death points to a long-term problem for local media.

As regular readers of the Citizen may know, editor Jeff Forward has aggressively and rightfully pursued to city of Elk Grove to reveal the name of a dog owner who was responsible for a recent vicious attack. In that same incident Elk Grove police officers killed a companion dog that was attacking.

The city refused to reveal the owner of the attack dogs after repeated request from the Citizen. In response Forward filed a California Public Records Request.

In this little game of chicken, the city blinked first and revealed the name of the dog owners as well as the officer who killed one of the dogs.

Subsequent to this, Forward has posted on his blog that top officials with the city of Elk Grove have scheduled a meeting with him as well and David Herburger and Roy Herburger “in an effort to work collaboratively to better share information.”

So what is the real purpose of this meeting? Is the city simple try to work better with the Citizen as Forward wrote or is there something more subtle they [the city] hope to convey to the Herburgers?

Some time ago the Wall Street Journal reported how a major advertiser with the Roanoke Times pressured that paper to take a reporter of a beat that was aggressively investigating this particular advertiser. In this case, The Columbia Journalism review reports the advertiser is a health insurance company who had cornered the local market, was denying access to medical procedures and raising premiums.

In this case of chicken, management at the Times blinked first and reassigned the reporter. Presumably they decided that 24% in lost advertising revenues was more important than seeking the truth.

With the death of the Bee’s Elk Grove section, the primary responsibility of representing the interest of Elk Grove’s citizens squarely falls on the shoulders of the Citizen. Now more than ever, the name of this publication is relevant.

Hopefully the meeting between city officials and the Citizen is nothing more than a peace meeting. However, given the weakened state of newspapers in general, the lackluster local economy and the financial challenges faced by any family-owned newspaper in this environment, we can’t help but wonder if the city might try squeezing the Citizen for more favorable news coverage.

After all as the city’s official newspaper, the Citizen publishes lots of legal notices that are high revenues in face of a steadily declining classified advertising environment. We hope this is not the case, but if it is, one would hope the Citizen won’t bow to the pressure.

Post a Comment Default Comments

Follow Us



Elk Grove News Minute

All previous Elk Grove News Minutes, interviews, and Dan Schmitt's Ya' Gotta be Schmittin' Me podcasts are now available on iTunes

Elk Grove News Podcast