Throw us a Bone

by Kevin Uhrich, Pasadena Weekly, Dec. 31, 2014/Jan. 1, 2015

TV newscasters apparently love the Pasadena Weekly. In fact, rarely does a day go by that one does not hear a headline or short story that’s appeared in the paper read back to them over the air.


It’s both flattering and sometimes infuriating, and it’s happened again, this time involving our recent story about Joan Williams. Williams is a longtime Pasadena resident who was crowned Miss Crown City in 1958 but was denied the special perks that went along with the title — like riding in the Rose Parade — after city officials learned of her African-American heritage. A number of news stations apparently saw our story by Justin Chapman, “Justice on Parade,” about Williams finally being honored by the Tournament of Roses and riding in this year’s Rose Parade, and decided to “pick it up.” At least one station, ABC 7, attributed the story to PW, but Channel 5, which is owned by the same company that owns the Los Angeles Times, did not.


But this kind of thing is not unusual. TV and sometimes newspapers will pick up our stories and run them without attribution. Such was the case with our 2012 story about local writer Carla Sameth, whose gut-wrenching first-person account of being beaten up by sheriff’s deputies while riding the local commuter train, called “One Day on the Gold Line,” captured the attention of a number of TV news agencies, which ran their own versions of what they had read in our paper. In that case, only one reporter, Beverly White of NBC 4 News, bothered to do the ethical thing and point out that the story originated in the gold old P-Dubya.


And it happened last summer with a story titled “Junk Mail,” in which intern Lance Wyndon reported the email account of a John Muir High School teacher had been hacked and nude images of the instructor were distributed to parents, other teachers, students and even members of the Board of Education. 


We agree with the news judgment of those picking up our stories. They should be covering these types of issues, and we are happy that they do. All we ask is for these giant news operations to throw us a bone once in a while.