Best in Sacramento journalism – Aug. 21 to Aug. 27

Thanks to everyone who checked out my blog last week. I’m aiming to update on a regular schedule, with new posts at noon on Sundays. The second installment is definitely past-deadline.

[View the story “Best in Sacramento journalism – Aug. 21 to Aug. 27” on Storify]

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. The propane tank fire in Lincoln dominated television news, hundreds showed up at a Sacramento City Council meeting to oppose moving the UC Davis Medical Center campus out of District 5 and, well, Jimmer Fredette announced his engagement to BYU cheerleader Whitney Wonnacott in the absence of substantive Kings news.

And, yet, they don’t make my list. In addition to the above-stated list of criteria, originality is a very important variable. 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.  It’s not fun to split hairs on similar stories reported by each major outlet.

Now, on to the 10 best stories in Sacramento journalism:

10. “Preps Plus Live – Zero Week Kickoff” with the Appeal-Democrat, KTXL Fox Channel 40, the Sacramento Bee and the SureWest Sports Show

CoverItLive chats are a great way to corral the hectic news of Friday night high school football. The live chat started a little before 6 p.m. and continued until 11 p.m. Kudos to the journalists from various outlets for coming together and putting this together.

9. “Sacramento man pops the question via comic strip” by Hudson Sangree for The Sacramento Bee

It was heartwarming. It was sappy. And it involved a newspaper. Kevin Timpson, a grocery clerk and student, convinced cartoonist Tony Carrillo help him propose in the comic strip F Minus. “I loved how he proposed,” Cierra Howard told Sangree. “It’s totally him. It’s totally us.”

8. “Clinic helps chronic ER visitors get healthy” by Jenn Walker (@jennjacquelyn) for HealthyCal.org

Walker introduces readers to Steven Macko – a 52-year-old paralegal who found himself unemployed and homeless in 2008. “Living on the streets is tough,” Walker writes. “Living on the streets with a chronic medical illness like Crohn’s disease is even tougher.”

7. “The State Worker: Furloughs end, but layoffs remain a possibility” by Jon Ortiz (@TheStateWorker) for The Sacramento Bee

No story with the word “furlough” in the headline goes unnoticed in Sacramento. The Thursday column was a reminder that the local job market, already straining and struggling, may get much, much worse. “Layoffs are coming – the real kind, where real people go to the unemployment line,” Ortiz writes.

6. “Too many taxis in the city?” by Melissa Corker (@MelissaCorker) for the Sacramento Press

New York. Chicago. Los Angeles. These are cities with a taxi culture. Where does Sacramento fit in? Corker reports that there are now more than 500 taxis in Sacramento and some are not happy. “The City Council responded with a two-year moratorium on new taxis in Sacramento to give city staff time to analyze the problems and suggest ways to deal with them,” Corker writes.

5. “Asperger’s into young adulthood” by Ben Schenkel (@BenSchenkel) for The Sacramento Bee

Schenkel doesn’t waste time in the opening of this profile of a community college student. “Even for the most independent and outgoing of teenagers, adjusting to college can be tricky,” he writes. “For Spencer Griffin, a 23-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome, the transition is more daunting.” Once drawn in, Schenkel keeps the reader by mixing color and information about the complex disorder.

4. “Fracking in Sacramento: Gasland cometh?” by Hugh Biggar for the Sacramento News & Review

Fracking, it’s use and a legislative attempt at oversight, is news to me. “It involves taking millions and millions of gallons of water, along with chemicals and sand, shooting it into the earth really deep and then hopefully bringing up natural gas,” Nick Miller, associate editor at SN&R, told David Watts Barton on The Insight. Biggar reports that a Colorado company plans to open 20 fracking wells in the region.

3. “California Legislature releases spending records with some holes” by Jim Sanders for The Sacramento Bee and “California Legislature releases members’ spending records” by Michael J. Mishak (@mjmishak) for the Los Angeles Times

The Legislature released member-by-member spending records after previously denying multiple public-records requests by The Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times and facing a lawsuit. “We simply believe these documents are public under the Legislative Public Records Act,” Joyce Terhaar, executive editor of The Bee, wrote in a column explaining the decision to file suit. It’ll take time for reporters to sift through the data – posted late in the week, late in the day.

2. “Lone state park resident faces eviction” by Joanna Lin (@joannalin) for California Watch

While a stretch to consider this a local story, it’s such a good California story that it couldn’t be left out. “In an unusual arrangement with the state,” Lin writes. “(Frank) Quan is the sole resident of China Camp State Park, one of 70 parks the state plans to close amid a $22 million budget cut.”

1. Two-part series: “New leader implements big changes in California National Guard” and “Convicted of unlawful sex with girl, 17, recruiter was kept for years in National Guard” by Charles Piller (@cpiller) for The Sacramento Bee

These two stories ran on Sunday and Monday. It didn’t long for someone to take the hit. “Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, who led the California National Guard from 2005 until early last year, was summarily removed Wednesday from active service as a Guard member,” Piller wrote in a Thursday follow-up. “Guard officials called the removal of a former California adjutant general in this fashion unprecedented.”

What do you think? Did I miss a story? Don’t agree with my ranking? Tell me in the comments section.

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