Of marches and walkathons
Sandy Banks' Tuesday column was about an event that drew thousands on Sunday -- and that wasn't covered otherwise in the L.A. Times.
"I was astonished to find no article in The Times regarding the EIF Run/Walk for Women held at the Coliseum," wrote Gerry Suzuki of Torrance on Sunday. "Did I somehow overlook it? When 50,000 or more people show up to support such a worthwhile fundraiser, it deserves attention. Most of the participants wore signs on their backs honoring several friends or relatives. You found space to report a rally of 400 parents supporting students of Crenshaw High and to report a march of about 400 in Hollywood supporting China's Olympics. Also an article about Ojai's Pastie Lady. Are those items so important that there was no space left for an event involving more than 50,000? What kind of newspaper can ignore a topic affecting so many local people?" Donna Trimingham of Redondo Beach wrote too: "How about next year you come walk with me and the 60,000 others or at least give us a paragraph or two in your paper."
It's not uncommon to get such complaints every month or two, given the fact that a region this size gives rise regularly to well-attended events, be they protest marches or fundraising rallies for a good cause.
As are many other such events, the Run/Walk for Women -- which calls itself Los Angeles' biggest fundraiser for women's cancers -- is held annually. The Times has covered it a handful of times in its 15 years, at least once with an article (in 2002), more often with a photo and caption (as in 2004 and last year).
As with so much in the newspaper, reporting comes down to resources, says California Editor David Lauter: "Producing a newspaper is a constant battle with time and space -- the time that writers and photographers have to get out and report stories and the space that the newspaper has to print them. In a metropolitan area the size of Southern California, the number of worthy, interesting events routinely exceeds the number of reporters we have. In general, if there's a choice between covering a new event and one that recurs every year, we'll lean in the direction of the new."
Adds Lauter, "Inevitably, those choices disappoint."
Columnist Banks apparently gave voice to a lot of readers who took part in the Run/Walk when she wrote in her column, "I can't do it justice, can't convey the emotional wallop of that morning. There were tears, but no pity. Laughter without frivolity. Shared hope and sad memories." Reader Trimingham wrote back to say, "A big thank you to Sandy Banks."
Photo from May 2007 shows Laura Saga, 10, of Santa Clarita, one of thousands of participants at last year's annual Revlon Run/Walk For Women in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu.