Can your blog do this?
Davis blogger called ‘reckless’ by Yolo district attorney
Experiments in citizen journalism keep popping up around the Sacramento region. Some worthy, some mind-numbingly dull.
One of the more ambitious has been the political website The People’s Vanguard of Davis, and its spinoff site, the Yolo Judicial Watch. Vanguard editor David Greenwald started a blog in 2006, “to blow off some steam and frustration.”
Since then, with the help of several intern volunteers, he’s built a sophisticated site covering Yolo politics in remarkable depth, with a strong focus on cops and crime.
Greenwald’s been getting a lot of attention for a story he broke last month, titled “Vanguard Investigation Finds Evidence of Exaggerated Crime Figures in DA Grant Applications.”
It’s arcane stuff, and Greenwald notes in the article that the district attorney’s office—headed by District Attorney Jeff Reisig—refused to discuss the statistics or help shed any light on what the numbers meant. He presses on, using the Yolo DA’s own grant applications to point out several statistics he believes don’t add up, and which he believes may have been intentionally fudged to win more grant money for the agency.
The Yolo DA never responded to Greenwald’s requests for information. After he published, the agency chose not to respond to the Vanguard or to Greenwald directly but instead sent a strongly worded statement to local mainstream media outlets claiming “his allegations are all false.”
In fact, the district attorney’s statement uses “false” in all caps and bold six times as it dissects Greenwald’s article. To take one example, the DA says that Greenwald conflated Yolo County arrest statistics with those of the Yolo Narcotic Enforcement Team, a multijurisdictional drug enforcement agency. “The blogger was most likely ignorant of these facts,” the statement explains.
Those are facts the district attorney’s office might have shared with Greenwald at the outset but chose not to. Instead, the agency finds itself issuing angry statements denouncing a blogger—a blogger with a faithful readership, who is likely to keep publishing stories about the DA’s office.
District attorney spokesman Jonathan Raven told SN&R that Greenwald’s post showed “at the very least, a reckless disregard for the truth and even malicious conduct.”
“We consider the allegations to be libelous,” he added.
According to a recent editorial column in the Woodland Daily Democrat, the DA was rumored to be contemplating “some kind of action against Greenwald.” The columnist, Jake Dorsey, went on to characterize the DA’s response as “petty.”
When asked if the DA was considering any action against Greenwald, Raven said, “There’s nothing to that at this point.”