Sunday Commentary: Telling the Other Side of the Story?

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig

By David M. Greenwald

One of the complaints that a number of our readers make from time to time is that the Vanguard is one-sided and rarely has the other side of the story.  The Vanguard itself was formed as a medium to tell the other side of the story, the side of the story not often told in the mainstream media and certainly not by other local media entities.

This began in 2006 when the council shut down the Human Relations Commission over their advocacy of police accountability and our perception that the local press served largely as a mouthpiece for the council majority at that time—as well as for the district attorney’s office, first under David Henderson and then under then-newly elected DA Jeff Reisig.

While there is plenty of good journalism out there, those in the criminal justice reform arena have been increasingly critical of the mainstream press for simply relying on police and other official sources in retelling their narratives.  As an example, even a large mainstream publication like the San Francisco Chronicle continued repeating the “crime is rising” narrative until they finally did their own investigative piece that found that overall crime was not rising—some specific segments were—and they realized that the narrative that they had been reporting for months was actually false (though they never acknowledged this).

To put a fine point on it: there is a good amount of good journalism out there, but a lot lacks critical analysis and often takes the releases and statements of law enforcement and prosecutors at face value.

For months (and really for years), I have been railing on the local paper for their lack of scrutiny of the Yolo County District Attorney.  They have never done a critical analysis of key issues like their zero bail press release series—we did and found the implied claims by the DA’s office to be misleading at best.  That is not on just the Davis Enterprise—none of the Sacramento area media have scrutinized the claims by DA Reisig either.

The Enterprise has failed to cover at all the CDAA (California District Attorneys Association) scandal and misuse of money. They have not asked DA Jeff Reisig, who as Vice President is actually in line to be President, to account for the misuse of funding.  Because the DA doesn’t talk to the Vanguard, no one is asking him critical questions on the misuse of money.

A recent example is found last weekend.

On May 30, the Enterprise did publish the DA’s press release on the lawsuit filed by Anne Marie Schubert and joined by 43 other elected DAs including Jeff Reisig.

Instead of perhaps doing an article and getting both sides of the story, the Enterprise simply posted the press release.

The press release notes: “43 elected district attorneys across California, including Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, have filed a civil lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit awarding additional conduct credits to more than 76,000 violent and serious offenders.”

It also quotes Schubert.

“Allowing the early release of the most dangerous criminals, shortening sentences as much as 50 percent, impacts crime victims and creates a serious public safety risk,” Schubert said. “This lawsuit asks the court to enjoin CDCR from awarding these credits unless and until these regulations are exposed to a fair, honest and transparent debate, where the public has input on dramatic changes made through the regulatory process.”

An earlier release also had a statement by DA Reisig: “It’s one issue for CDCR to unilaterally shorten sentences which can create a danger to the public and adversely impact crime victims. But to do so without transparency, public input and without a valid and legal rationale, violates core democratic principles and due process. CDCR needs to repeal these regulations and start the process anew in a fair, just and legal manner.”

The Enterprise does not attempt to include that statement.  They also fail to provide the other side of the story.  There is no critical analysis here.  There is no scrutiny of the claims.

Compare that to Capital Public Radio.

On May 6, unlike the Enterprise, they fact checked claims made by Republican recall election candidate John Cox who claimed that “Newsom had just released tens of thousands of inmates onto the streets.”

They could have printed this verbatim just as the Enterprise did, but, instead, they fact checked the statement that Newsom “just let 76,000 inmates out of jail with almost no warning.”  

“That’s simply not the case,” they found.

You see the difference. The Enterprise just printed a press release. Capital Public Radio actually questioned the underlying claims.

Capital Public Radio pointed out, “No one has been released under the expanded program and officials estimate it will be months or years before that happens.”

But it is actually even worse than that. 

The press release claims, “This lawsuit requests the Superior Court to declare the regulations unlawful and to prohibit CDCR from awarding these additional credits until CDCR lawfully complies with the regulatory scheme, which would include a transparent and rigorous public comment period.”

But, under an emergency adoption, that part is not avoided. The emergency regulations only remain in effect for 180 days during which the agency still has to go through regular regulation adoption procedures including public input.

That means that the lawsuit is largely a publicity stunt for Schubert to attack the governor and gain name recognition for her campaign, and the Enterprise just bought into it.  Capital Public Radio thus does their job and provides the other side of the story, as has the Vanguard.  But the Enterprise simply reprinted the DA’s press release and left it at that.  It’s not that they don’t have a very capable reporter there who could have done this work.

What they have done is a disservice to local readers who may be unaware of the issue, and probably are not going to do a deep dive into the rest of the story.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice –

Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts


  1. Richard_McCann

    I don’t come to the Vanguard expecting a big comprehensive New York Times style article. That’s simply beyond the resources available (unless someone drops a million dollars on you, David!) I very much appreciate that you provide an alternative viewpoint. Those who complain about your perspective are just unhappy about what you publish. The Vanguard does not claim to be the “publication of record” for Davis–it’s purpose is quite transparent. Those who want something different can make the effort to put their own perspective out there (as the Davisite has done, regardless of whether one agrees with them or not.)

  2. Eric Gelber

    I seem to recall a time when the Enterprise functioned as a local news source rather than what it has become—little more than a publication of local announcements. That’s fine for what it is. But as a news junkie, I look to the Vanguard as the primary source of identification and analyses of local newsworthy issues. Obviously, as a “blog,” not a newspaper, it is written from a particular point of view. But the Vanguard performs a valuable public service to the community and I, for one, appreciate the unique contribution it makes.
    (I mistakenly posted this comment under the wrong article. I ask that it be deleted there.)

  3. Ron Oertel

    The Enterprise just printed a press release.

    Just noting that the Vanguard does this quite often, as well.  Nothing inherently wrong with that.

    But as a news junkie, I look to the Vanguard as the primary source of identification and analyses of local newsworthy issues.

    It’s an advocacy blog (primarily promoting “social justice” and “development/growth”), and does not even pretend to provide complete reporting of newsworthy issues.

  4. Keith Olsen

    One of the complaints that a number of our readers make from time to time is that the Vanguard is one-sided and rarely has the other side of the story.

    So readers complain that the Vanguard is “one-sided and rarely has the other side of the story” so the Vanguard posts an article complaining that other news sources are “one-sided and rarely has the other side of the story”, 

    Ummm, okay???

      1. Ron Oertel

        Eric:  But as a news junkie, I look to the Vanguard as the primary source of identification and analyses of local newsworthy issues.

        That’s what newspapers used to do a better job with, but without as “obvious” of a bias and agenda as a blog.  (And that goes for the stories they cover in the first place.)  There’s entire categories (such as incidents of local crime) that are still reported in publications such as the Enterprise (or other local news sources), but not on the Vanguard.

        The Internet has decimated the news industry.  You’d think that it would be the opposite, but no. Seems to me that the quality of reporting has significantly declined – everywhere.

        To some degree, “advocacy” seems to have further infiltrated major news organizations (compared to the past), as well. (I won’t call them “fake news”, however.) 🙂

        Not sure if this is also a reflection of, or cause of increasing political division as well.

        1. Ron Oertel

          And of course, the other thing that blogs promote/allow is the “amplification” of voices who essentially become part of the “news” (at least, for those who read or participate in the comment section).  Usually those with strong opinions, or nothing better to do.

          Some might think that this is part of the overall “decline”.  (That is, unless they’re the ones commenting of course.)  🙂

        2. Ron Oertel

          I don’t think that the Enterprise is as “political”.

          Though truth be told, I don’t look at it as much anymore, since they (and other news sources) seem to be increasingly clamping-down on “free” content.

          This is where you have an advantage.

          There’s too many free sources to be paying for one source. (So, maybe we’re getting what we’re paying for, in that sense.) But I don’t think that the “paying”‘ model works as well in the Internet age. Funding has to be “made up” for in other ways.

          1. David Greenwald

            “Though truth be told, I don’t look at it as much anymore”

            It seems to me that you make a lot of arguments for someone who admits not having followed something very closely…

        3. Ron Oertel

          I’m familiar enough with it, and one can still see the headlines even without paying.  It’s only recently that they seem to be clamping down more (along with other newspapers, such as the Sacramento Bee).  Or, could be something that’s just impacting my access.

          One difference between you and the Enterprise is that they may not even view the publication of a given press release in the same manner as you, in the first place.  Especially as it relates to criminal justice and your favorite prosecutor.

          I don’t see that what they report consistently has an “agenda”, whereas nearly everything that you report does. (Keep in mind that their views might be more similar to yours than mine, regarding growth and development. But one does not see that on a nearly-daily basis.)

          Nor are they reporting on criminal justice efforts across the country, how many people in prison have Covid, are “wrongfully convicted”, etc.


          1. David Greenwald

            Which is fine, but then they don’t report on stories that are actually local or have a local component but reflect poorly on the DA – that is the Yolo DA. I’m not talking about covering things that don’t involve Davis or Yolo County.

  5. Bill Marshall

    My point is that the newspaper is just as biased

    Meaning the Emptyprize?…  the Bee?  Daily Democrat?

    is just as biased”  … interesting… a dive to the lowest denominator?

    As a kid, and even as an adult, I could never get away to justify my behavior by saying “he did it too!”… guess we had different parents, mentors… the quoted text sounds like a 5-16 year old’s response…

    Think Kohlberg… stages of…

  6. Alan Miller

    Y’know, I really wanted to tear this “article” apart, line by line.  But I read the article a second time and realized something I never realized before.  David Greenwald  was born on the planet Krypton and was given the name Kal-El at birth. As a baby, his parents sent him to Davis in a small spaceship moments before Krypton was destroyed in a natural cataclysm.  He was sent to Davis to bring housing truth and social justice to the people of Davis.

    1. Keith Olsen

      As a baby, his parents sent him to Davis in a small spaceship moments before Krypton was destroyed in a natural cataclysm.  He was sent to Davis to bring housing truth and social justice to the people of Davis.

      Truth, Justice and the Progressive Way.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for