Leftovers from City Hall: Parks and civic importance

If I could name a prototype for a perfect small park, it would be Jardin de Roca Park in Irwindale.

The four-acre plot has a skate park, basketball hoops, tennis courts, a nice trail, native plants, historical placards, picnic benches and a playground.

In the middle sits a nice open field.

Jardin de Roca, by the way, means “rock garden” in Spanish.

The last two weeks, I’ve had the chance to eat and walk there with my wife during lunch breaks.

It’s given us a peaceful place to relax and talk about our future.

And since it’s so close to the newspaper office, members of the the staff often go there after work to exercise.

Since most of us regularly get traffic tickets in Irwindale, I feel like we’ve helped pay to keep it beautiful.

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USC last week put out an interesting study on local television news.

You can see it at http://www.learcenter.org/pdf/LALocalNews2010.pdf

The study found that local television news covered local government about 1 percent of the time – about 22 seconds per broadcast.

Business and the economy got 2 percent. Fires and water line breaks got about 4 percent. So did local civic issues.

Entertainment got 7 percent. Light features and offbeat stories got about 8 percent. Crime got 10 percent. Sports and weather got 12 percent. Seven percent was teasers.

About 25 percent of the news was local. And about 28 percent of the time was spent on commercials.

KCBS and KCAL did the best job at reporting things of “civic importance,” such as local government, crime of public officials, rewards, coverage of local catastrophes and citizen-related health issues. Those stories made up 17.2 and 15.8 percent of coverage.

The study reported that TV used 1.9 percent of its news hole to cover government in the LA media market.

For comparison purposes, the study also looked at the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Times used 3.3 percent for local government.

I didn’t have time to duplicate the methodology in the report, but I took a quick look at our papers.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, we published in our news section 33 local news stories and 26 non-local stories. That doesn’t count coverage of prep sports and local opinion pieces.

As far as “civic importance” goes, our percentages were a little higher than those covered in the study.

We dedicated about 3 percent to 5 percent of our news hole – usually about four or five stories – to local government. Most of those started on the front page. Civic affairs also came in about 4 percent each.

In Wednesday’s paper, for instance, we ran about 11 stories about government or civic issues.

- Ben Baeder is the Deputy Metro Editor of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.