Over the past few years, three reporters – Nancy Vogel, formerly of the LA Times and Sacramento Bee; Dorothy Korber, of the Bee; and John Hill, also of the Bee – have migrated to Sacramento’s Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes. There, they still dig deep into the good and bad of state government affairs, but for a much different kind of readership.
Their most vocal critic has been Dan Walters, a columnist who remained at the Bee. And coming to the defense of the trio of ex-journalists’ in today’s excellent in-depth article at Stateline.org is Mark Martin, a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter who now works for an overarching oversight committee. It’s enough to make you reach for a journo-to-politico flow chart.
“The Oversight Office has very talented journalists who did some terrific work when they were working for newspapers,” Walters says. “They do produce stuff, but it’s basically staff type of stuff, and doesn’t come up to what I know they’re capable of doing. It doesn’t seem to be generating anything that really is of big significance.”
Martin argues that while neither his oversight committee nor his counterparts on the Senate side have found “massive scandals,” neither has what’s left of the Sacramento press corps. “It hasn’t been just incredible, breathless scandals in the last several years,” he says. “There’s no money in state government to steal.”
Truer words may never have been spoken. Intriguingly, a September 30th report by Vogel about the sloppy state-wide use of monies earmarked for affordable housing was delivered to her audience just one day before a similar series began publishing in the LA Times.[A full list of the reports authored by the government-journalists can be found here]