Readers' Representative Journal

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A roundup of kudos

December 19, 2007 |  6:00 am

Some recent coverage that has brought plaudits:

The Dec. 9 investigative report on runaway trailers, which reported the deadly results when trailers for hauling boats, horses, gardening equipment, household goods and autos come unhooked on the highways, prompted more than 20 e-mails and calls of praise. A number of readers described their own harrowing experiences or called for greater enforcement and government regulation in response to the front-page story by Myron Levin and Alan C. Miller. Wrote emergency medical technician Tracy L. Hannah: "This should be required reading for ANYONE who tows a trailer. I have responded to far too many accidents that involve operator error." Wrote Harvey Steele of Lancaster, "I think you have made an impact for a safer highway in California."

The Dec. 7 Column One focused on one man, Reny Cabral, to illustrate what is happening as the state's prisons are increasingly overwhelmed by inmates in psychiatric crisis. The article by Scott Gold and Lee Romney -- one in a series on California's troubled mental health system -- moved social workers and others involved in the issue to thank The Times for shedding light on the subject. Said Tamara Odisho Benjamin of San Francisco: "Excellent article. Although it was very hard to read in one sitting without crying. It's terrible to know so many people are in Cabral's situation. Here in San Francisco there are all too many mentally ill people on our streets." Michelle Robinson of Simi Valley was moved, too: "I was wondering if you had any idea how people can prevent these things from happening again. I want to take some sort of action."

One of several for David Willman's front-page piece (and inside article) reporting how lobbying trumped the competition for a better anthrax vaccine (Dec. 2): "Great article.  I'm glad to see that this kind of reporting hasn't completely vanished at The Times." (From Mark Stegeman, associate professor of economics at the University of Arizona.)

The Dec. 12 story reporting that the Humane Society of the United States had accused a Westside pet store of selling puppies obtained from puppy mills brought numerous notes of concern. While a few readers defended the store that Carla Hall reported on, most readers expressed the sentiments of Barbara Davilman of Studio City: "Thank you for putting this on the front page. It's unconscionable that, given what we do know about puppy mills and how they operate, we still allow pet stores to sell dogs. If someone wants a dog they can contact one of several hundred rescue organizations, go to the shelters or contact a reputable breeder. If you ask me, puppy millers come in a close second to the Michael Vicks of the world."

Finally, because the story was mentioned in this journal last week for a grammar goof in the caption, it's worth noting that Judy Pasternak has won the 2007 John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism for for "Blighted Homeland," the series more than a year ago that detailed the deadly effects on Navajo reservations of uranium mining during the Cold War. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has held hearings as a result of the Nov. 2006 articles; more than 1,000 readers have praised it and requests continue to come in for more coverage of the issue. (Readers had reacted to the Dec. 7 story to point out a grammatical gaffe inserted by the editor who wrote the caption -- "have drank" instead of "have drunk.")