The Contra Costa Times ran a little item yesterday that left us wondering what happened to the reporting that we assume normally accompanies a news story. As is the habit of many business journalists, reporter James Temple seems to have foregone reporting in favor of the less exhausting press-release reprint method.
He wrote that the California Building Industry Association had just issued a report saying that if it weren’t for “red tape and regulations” which “prohibited builders from meeting housing demand, the industry would have contributed an additional $6 billion and 43,000 jobs to California’s economy last year.” As evidence that the CBIA’s claims had merit, the story quotes Robert Rivinius, president and CEO of CBIA, who said that builders “could contribute much more [to the state’s economy] if we were able to build the amount of housing needed in the state.”
And that’s about it. Temple did not tell us what these evil regulations are, or how precisely they are preventing the CBIA from single-handedly boosting the California economy. Nor were we treated to any dissenting views or outside analysis that might have supported, or called into question, the industry group’s contentious claims.
Fortunately, Temple summoned the energy for a longer, follow-up story that fills in many of the holes. The second piece, which appeared this morning, provides some context and outlines opposing views on the virtues of the CBIA’s campaign, which is aimed at nothing less than a total overhaul of California’s environmental regulations.
Temple specifies that the organization is lobbying for reforms to “California’s massive infrastructure bond package set for the November ballot, a Senate bill that would narrow the reach of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and another that would require cities to designate land for development and give builders automatic approval for many projects on that property.”
As for dissenting voices, we are given a lobbyist for the California League of Conservation Voters, who says that the last bill “would allow projects that jeopardize the state’s wildlife and natural resources to move forward unfettered.”
So there you have it, an item that went from a glorified press release to an actual news story in the span of 24 hours. What baffles us is why the Contra Costa Times bothered to run the lame original story, especially given that this was hardly breaking news.
Better to get it right than to get it first - a rule that is ignored all too often, especially by the business press.