The Downtown News has a great piece by Jon Regardie about how the LA Times Current section fed false information to a free-lance writer. Seems the Times commissioned Tom Slater, a British professor of urban studies (who’d only been to LA twice) to write about gentrification in reference to the enforced power-washing of sidewalks of Skid Row, and the removal of the homeless and their belongings.
But the information wasn’t true, Slater either couldn’t or didn’t double-check what the Times gave him, and so, wrote about the hosing and sweeping aside of the homeless, and in so doing, tarnished the reputation of a local organization, CCEA, that works with local businesses to clean up the area. Slater also didn’t know or didn’t care to mention that all downtown sidewalks are power-washed.
Local writer and downtowner, Brady Westwater, had been on this story from the beginning. He bugged the Times into correcting the archived story, long after the official correction appeared.
Regardie didn’t get much of an explanation from section editor, Nick Goldberg, of how and why Slater got false information. Seems another writer, Cara Mia DiMassa, did some shoe-leather reporting on Skid Row and learned that street cleaning wasn’t forced and draconian. But Goldberg doesn’t say how that info was ignored and the more dramatic hosing and sweeping story was passed on.
Why did Goldberg think a British professor would be a good choice to write about downtown LA’s rebirth struggles? The classy accent? Maybe Nick needs to take a stroll on Skid Row. FBLA thinks this would never have happened on Bob Sipchen‘s watch.