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The Water King, The Sniper and the Power of Blogging – UPDATED

June 27th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

david-nahai.gif

It’s been a good week for LA Blogs.


Alan won’t brag, so I will in his behalf.
In case you missed it (or missed the LAObserved mention of it), yesterday the Daily News published a fascinating editorial that completely copped to the fact that the DN got snookered by David Nahai who, clearly backed into a corner by Alan’s perfectly reasonable request (okay, and his legal threat) that Water King Nahai release his water bill, decided to do so—-to another journalist, who would then paint him as a swell and very forthcoming guy for doing the releasing.

Nahai may very well be a swell guy outside this incident.
(He has a very nice and talented wife. And Kevin Roderick has an interesting profile on him in the July issue of Los Angeles Magazine that is well worth reading. For instance, I was personally happy to learn that Nahai has been known to quote Jackson Brown lyrics when giving speeches.) But with regard to the Great Water Bill Controversy his behavior was less than stellar.

Anyway, read the editorial, and kudos to the Daily News for admitting to having been pawns, and appropriately, even if belatedly, crediting Alan.

By the way, this series of Alan’s is an excellent example
of what blogs can do well. It was perfectly reasonable for a reporter—-or for an LA resident, for that matter—- to demand that the guy who seeks to lead us down the path of righteousness in the quest for water conservation should have to fork over his own personal water bill. When Nahai declined, Alan’s pursuit of him made for an excellent—and frankly very funny— ongoing day-by-day narrative that accomplished several things. It….

A) brought attention to an important issue
(water conservation)…

B) amused us as we drank our morning coffee
(never a bad thing), and…

C) reminded us that the ordinary citizen has the right to ask
for certain kinds of information, and the fact that a public official doesn’t want to comply because it makes him or her feel a tad uncomfortable, doesn’t mean we should smile politely and back off.

Yet–unless your name is Steve Lopez
—few if any papers would have published Alan’s series of stories, as written, nevermind that Alan is a longtime journalist/editor with an excellent professional reputation and the information he was after was legitimate news.

Ditto the ongoing and important stories that LA Observed’s Kevin Roderick is doing about Sam Zell
and the Los Angeles Times. Would a newspaper run what journalist, radio-commentator, former-LA Times staff writer/senior editor Roderick is posting? A smidgen of it, yes. Most of it, no.

But blogs can and do. And that’s a healthy development.

UPDATE: Kevin Roderick
did a smart radio broadcast on the just past good week for LA blogs in which he highlights Patterco’s excellent coverage of the way the LA Times completely overstated and misled regarding the issue of Judge Alex Kozinski’s oneline porn collection, and Alan’s wonderful Water King’s story.

“Blogs,” Roderick concludes , “the better ones, are changing the media scene in Los Angeles
, like they are everywhere. And even with the occasional dishonest actors that go with that, I think we’re all better off.”

Yep. Me too.

Okay, happy Friday.

Posted in environment, media | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. WBC Says:

    Obviously it’s hopeless to point out that etiquette and manners do count with “reporters”/ bloggers, in terms of a subject deciding who to give a story to. (Which is why Tim Russert was so popular.) You neglect to mention the little matter of someone knocking on someone’s door to demand a bill, alleging that an obviously dismissively offhand remark like “you’d have to ask my wife” is an invitation.

    I don’t know how they do things in Topanga, but in Benedict Canyon or any affluent canyon, people generally don’t show up univited, and few people would even have opened the door. In point of fact, would-be gardeners/maids/mag salesmen often are just casing a house for robbery, and police advise NOT opening the door to strangers. Now people have another reason — the “sniper.”

    I might add, again, that while we who read this blog and the smaller periodicals like CityBeat, LA Observed etc. (which Beth Barrett should have been doing, if she claims to have her pulse on L A) know that Alan is of a different category than, say, a desperate paparazzo or zuma dogg, he has no more legitimacy in showing up to demand documents from any city official at his home, than they would. Frankly, if someone did that to me, I’d give him to the count of ten to leave before I called security (but of course, I’d never even have opened the door in the first place).

    What’s really ironic about all this, is that Beth Barrett herself earned her rep as “breaking” the Mirthala story by being the most obnoxious reporter in town, showing up at Mirthala’s mother’s funeral in Phoenix to snoop the guest list, and calling Corina’s mother to get the dirt before anyone could stop her. NOW we’re supposed to believe that the Queen of Dirty Tricks was snookered, and it’s all Nahai’s fault? Who’s playing who, here? Yes, it’s a very interesting game all around, and hilarious, but for not quite the reasons you list — all three of the protagonists in this drama look pretty silly with their finger-pointing.

  2. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Don’t agree with all your points, WBC. But definitely an interesting game all around and you point out some relevant dimensions and ironies, to be sure.

  3. Alan Mittelstaedt Says:

    Celeste, thank you. WBC: You and other followers of the David Nahai drama have raised thoughtful points and objections all along, and I appreciate your comments. Many of my friends disagree with me at least half the time, so keep it up.

  4. WBC Says:

    Thanks, Alan. I’m glad you’re not offended. BTW, Nahai, Beth Barrett (and Ron Kaye and other current and former Daily News colleagues) were all at City Hall yesterday morning for Friday presentations — Nahai for something to do with a DWP charity, and the DN bunch to support Greg Hernandez on being honored by Bill Rosendahl for his coverage of gay entertainment issues for the paper. I doubt there were hugs all around — must have been interesting to see the different groups avoid each other, in fact. (Not to mention that Kaye is trying to drum up a “dump your trash at City Hall” Bastille Day movement.)

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