There are plenty of stories to cover on the west coast. Here’s a hint from the Wall Street Journal Avian Flu News Tracker (subscription required):
9:50 a.m.: alaska, a key stop on migratory routes, is putting its order in early for antiviral medication to help protect its residents against bird flu. officials plan to spend roughly $1 million to buy enough medication to treat one-fourth of the state’s population of 650,000. new york state, by contrast, is going to have to spend about $23 million for 1.3 million courses of antiviral medications, which would treat only about 7% of its 19 million people.
A newspaper could be investigating county and state preparedness for the possible pandemic, and analyzing the degrees of seriousness given by various political types to the threat and the rationality of both high response jurisdictions and zero response jurisdictions.
That sort of reporting would be a genuine public service.
Or newspapers can act as funnels for the disgruntled and the politically motivated and relay the nation’s secrets to the front page and then stand in wonder as the nation rejects the publication as anything other than disgusting.
Or a paper can do is best to destroy the reputation of retired bicycling superstar Lance Armstrong, as the Los Angeles Times does today, in a massive, two-full page story titled “Allegations Trail Armstrong Into Another Stage,” which begins with two columns on the top left-hand side of the Sunday paper and then jumps to pp A14-15.
The jump headline gives you an idea of where this story is headed: “1999 EPO Levels Questioned.”
You don’t have to be an Armstrong fan or a bicycle enthusiast to wonder if the lede is about 1999, how in the world could the Times have discovered anything?
So what’s the story behind the story? It looks to me as a losing partu in a contract dispute with Armstrong has done a document dump, and the Times –unable to resist the lure of the “secret” made public– just ran the whole sorry tale:
“Sworn testimony as well as exhibits and other documents constitute the record of confidential arbitration proceedings, a series of closed hearings conducted early this year in Dallas in connection with a contract dispute.
The Times reviewed the files