The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 28, 2009
Another state worker weighs in on The Bee's coverage

The discussion continues.

Last week we posted an e-mail from Dwaine Barefield, a state worker who spoke for many of his colleagues when he criticized this blog, The Bee and other media outlets for lumping "state workers" into a pile when talking about pay and benefits.

"The end result is we get bashed," Barefield said. "Rightfully, or wrongly - we get bashed."

His suggestion: "Perhaps, if the Bee could tone down the negative rhetoric and be more specific about who's doing what instead of using the collective state worker as a label that doesn't distinguish a legislator from a file clerk, we could see some constructive improvement in the way the public perceives us."

That elicited this e-mail response from another state worker, which we are posting here, unedited:

Hi Jon,


This is regarding Friday's post ("A state employee talks about negative press"). I felt compelled to weigh in on this one.

Dwain Barefield seemed to miss the point of Andrew McIntosh's original post. Andrew wasn't talking about an actual increase in benefits to state workers; he was reporting on the rising cost of providing health and dental benefits to retired state workers and its financial repercussions for the state. There's a difference.

I disagree with Dwain's assertion that the legislature, the administration and state workers are all lumped together in the same group. For one thing, state workers are appointed, but as Dwain himself said, the governor and legislators are elected to govern. I think most people who read your blog are able to make that distinction.

I also disagree with his opinion that the Bee portrays state workers in a negative light and his suggestion that its reporting is sloppy. I think the Bee's coverage of all aspects of government is fair, objective, and accurate.

That "the first obligation of any journalist and the media should be to report the truth," is a given, isn't it? And it practically goes without saying that "journalism...is the best example of the freedom of individuals and the importance of free thought in a democracy." Which I think renders the questions that prompted Dwain's reply rhetorical at best. That's not to say that I don't think those kinds of questions and answers are valid, though, especially when they're so eloquently expressed.

Daniela Gargaro

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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