Each week, I curate the best stories in the Sacramento news scene. The stories are chosen based on a combination of storytelling, difficulty, importance, depth, proximity and heart.
These stories are not necessarily the top news topics in the region. Video of Otis the sky-diving dog may have been the most viral, paying for a new arena likely dominated the airwaves, comments from the uncle of Madeline Samaan-Fay shocked viewers and the arrest of Placerville Mayor David Machado left the city formerly-known as Hangtown buzzing.
And, yet, they don’t make my list. Aside from the above-stated list of criteria, I’m interested in originality. It’s not fun to split hairs on similar stories reported by each major outlet. All things being equal, or close to it, platform dictates consumption. You may prefer the television video report over the newspaper print report, or vice versa.
Now, on to the 10 best stories in Sacramento journalism:
10. “The Muddy Chicken Hits It Big” by Tom Verducci for Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated gives cover treatment to the Red Sox second baseman from Woodland. The profile of Dustin Pedroia, which details little on his earlier years, focuses on his insatiable appetite for baseball. “He embodies baseball the way our inner child imagines it,” Verducci writes.
Filmmaker Oztuk follows photographer Jimmy Chin and small group on a climbing expedition in Yosemite National Park. The video is beautiful and shows the ways Chin captures his breath-taking images. “Yosemite is the epicenter of climbing,” Chin says. “A lot of the greatest climbing feats in history have happened here and they’re happening right now.”
8. “Elk Grove schools dominate preseason football Top 20” by Joe Davidson (@sb_joedavidson) and Bill Paterson for The Sacramento Bee
People love lists, and they love to criticize the makers of them. No one knows the local high school sports scene better than Davidson, and the attached slideshow is a great way to get fans prepared for the upcoming football season. “As is the case in picking any preseason team, it’s subjective,” Davidson writes.
7. “The New Creatives: Meet the Sacramento region’s top 25 up-and-coming talents” by Rachel Leibrock (@writegrrrl) for the Sacramento News & Review
Putting together a list involves more than throwing out a bunch of names. Good lists incorporate reporting and aim to teach you something new. The Leibrock list mixes in six mini-profiles among the 25 selections — many names new to me. Writes Leibrock: “While some of the names here might be familiar, other choices might surprise you. We hope so, actually.”
Reese is one the few reporters in the Sacramento region with extensive computer-assisted reporting skills. While many outlets in the region covered the release of STAR results, the attached database provided the most extensive, easy-to-scan data. “You’ve got to shift through it all to figure out what’s important and what’s happening,” Reese told Jeffrey Callison on Insight.
5. Two-part series: “Colorado’s medical pot business is for-profit, regulated — and thriving” and “Hippie town chafes under Colorado’s medical pot rules” by Peter Hecht for The Sacramento Bee
Medical marijuana remains in a hot topic locally, as seen in Sacramento County’s recent attempt to shut down dispensaries. So, it’s good to look at our neighbors and see how they’re regulating this growing industry. “In Colorado,” Hecht writes. “America’s second-largest medical marijuana market behind California, marijuana capitalism flourishes.”
4. Two-part series: “Nowhere To Swim: The Impact of Sacramento’s Pool Closures” by Joe Rubin (@capradiogreen) for Capital Public Radio
Rubin examines the effects of pool closures due to budget cuts. He was inspired by his daughter’s love of water park mushroom umbrellas. “I have a very distinct memory of being with her at Southside Park and seeing her play under one of these mushrooms,” Rubin told Jeffrey Callison on Insight. “It kind of etched in my mind, ‘wow, what a wonderful place.'”
3. “Sacramento judge eviscerates defendant, CPS over girl’s death” by Marjie Lundstrom and Sam Stanton (@StantonSam) for The Sacramento Bee
Lundstrom and Stanton come through with another excellently-reported piece on Child Protective Services. You can feel the tension, hurt and anger at on the Friday sentencing in the beating death of a three-year-old. “It turned into a public trial of Sacramento County’s Child Protective Services, and Superior Court Judge Michael A. Savage found the agency guilty,” Lundstrom and Staton write.
Schools in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District implemented new environmental curriculum influenced by a lobbying group for the plastics industry. “Touted as the first public-private partnership of its kind, the trade group’s edit of California’s school curriculum illustrates a growing concern for special-interest influence over public education,” Rust writes.
Joseph details roadblock after roadblock to accessing information throughout state government. “Secrecy has seeped into every corner of state government, making it difficult to gauge Sacramento’s effectiveness and discretion,” Joseph writes.
What do you think? Did I miss a story? Don’t agree with my ranking? Tell me in the comments section.