I am troubled by a string of articles coming out in The South Pasadenan online over the last week.
The first article involves a modest increase in the crime rate but is written to leave the impression that South Pasadena has been suffering a surge in violent crime, when in reality it amounts to a few extra car burglaries and then goes further to implicate the Covid Prison Release Program with the increase in crimes even though the program hadn’t happened yet. Secondly, the paper reprints a Police Department press release indicating they caught several burglary suspects, which in and of itself has no news value to the community other than amplifying what will eventually appear on the crime page in the printed edition. Similarly, the article of Sept. 7 on the deceased woman found at the train station is simply a reprint of a Police Department press release, no new information is given and it has no impact on the community other than it’s troubling and ominous tone. The subtitle even adds, ‘Foul Play Not Initially Suspected’, the only time the idea of foul play is even mentioned is by this editorial choice.
This woman died on a day when the temperatures reached 113 degrees. The article makes no mention of that. Could not the subtitle have read ‘Cause Of Death Has Not Been Determined’ or ‘Excessive Temperatures Not A Determining Factor’. Was she unhoused, did she die from the heat and if so, was a lack of city and county services to blame for her situation? The article doesn’t say, it only describes that the police were on the scene. As a counter example, the press release regarding the potential ‘city employee imposter’ is justified as it alerts the community to a possible ongoing threat.
The one thing these articles do succeed in however is acting as gratuitous PR for the Police Department, promoting an image of our city beset with crime and reminding us that the police are doing their job. This is peculiar timing given recent calls by many, including myself, for a reduction in the police budget to help our city during this fiscal crisis and those who question the need for such a large force in such a small, low-crime town.
I value what the paper is bringing to this community and respect the difficulty of operating a news outlet in these times. Perhaps, like many online news outlets, the paper is attempting to feed the need for content and using these statements in lieu of reporting, but I beg you to consider the impact that a steady stream of crime news does to a small community. Particularly in a time like this, when we are suffering through a pandemic, wildfires, political divisiveness, unemployment and a recession. Do we really need to be alerted to every incident that comes across the police desk? Given the fear-driven nature of national news, we all look to our local news for objective, simple and necessary reporting.
South Pasadena Resident
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