Where’d the Watchdogs Go?

A vacant echo within L.A. County press corps.

James Rainey, Los Angeles Times

I’ve covered a few natural disasters in my time, and the evacuation scenes looked something like this: rooms abandoned in a hurry, filled only with ghosts. Mail piled up, unopened. Phones that kept ringing, with nobody left to answer.

The latest civic emergency comes not with a rush of flames or jolt of earth. It has crept up slowly in an unexpected place: the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration press room.

A slow plague has reduced the corps of journalists who cover county government to four. That’s just four reporters (and one of them has other responsibilities) who focus a critical eye on the biggest local government in America — a $22-billion behemoth that provides policing, healthcare, welfare and more to a county of nearly 10 million people.

As concern about the economic crisis spreads, everyone should be alarmed that the ranks of the watchdogs assessing the fallout for government have been cut to shreds.

For the full article, visit http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-onthemedia18-2009jan18,0,2214604.column

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