What’s next? Levander says the project will continue “as long as there’s a story to tell. We have to wait and see what the end is.” Much of that will depend, of course, on government actions and what communities in California’s Central Valley do to bring attention to a serious threat to their health. What’s great about this effort is that by combining forces, regional news outlets can stay on the case.

As Levander puts it, “The project demonstrates the power and potential of joint coverage by regional media.” And that’s so refreshing in this era of quick hits and the endless march to capture audience attention faster than the next guy. The press has certainly captured the attention of communities in California’s Central Valley for whom the disease matters. That’s what good journalism still is.


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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.