Mitchell’s piece also told this story, in three paragraphs rich with costly implications:
Federal courts are feeling the pinch, with defendants waiting longer for trials. Katherian Roe, chief federal public defender in Minnesota, said she has yanked attorneys off high-profile trials to prevent a backlog of lower-level cases. To keep her attorneys paid, she has cut back on paid expert witnesses and let vacant positions go unfilled. Even so, the caseloads for Roe’s lawyers are growing. Attorneys from Roe’s office represent more than 80 percent of federal defendants. “Their representation is going to be compromised,” said U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, Minnesota’s chief federal judge.
Bloomberg ran a passable piece that had plenty of details, too, although he cast the issue as one of mayors griping about cuts in federal aid.
What these articles show is that there is plenty to be reported on about how the budget cuts are affecting lives.
The most suprising piece of recent news about the sequester, meanwhile, was largely ignored, buried, or presented without context. That news is that The International Monetary Fund criticized the sequester, in a sharp contrast to its usual prescription of austerity, as Paul Krugman noted in his Monday column.
Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said Friday that “the sequester cuts not only reduce growth in the short term, but they also hurt the most vulnerable.”
Further, the IMF said that the “excessively rapid and ill-designed” budget cuts were damaging the American economy.
At the Los Angeles Times, reporter Jim Puzzanghera’s easy-to-read report ran in the business section. That placement was much better, however, than in The New York Times, which on Saturday buried an AP report on Page 6 of the business section, in a story that focused on the stock market ending the week down. Just one paragraph mentioned the IMF, and it was one of those and-on-the-other-hand lines that would leave the average reader confused.
USA Today’s Tim Mullaney, meanwhile, did an excellent report on the IMF’s analysis. Unfortunately, it only appeared online.
Now that the austerity-minded
World Bank, as the IMF is known, has weighed in, journalists might focus on asking harder questions about the sequester, including what benefits, if any, are flowing from these spending cuts.