One of my main functions around here is dealing with the news media. I try not to pick fights with the press, even when they get stuff wrong, but sometimes I want to tear out my hair.
Case in point: The Nov. 1, 2015 issue of California Sunday Magazine (on Twitter as @CalSunday), which appears both online and in print as a weekend supplement to a number of newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee and San Diego Union-Tribune. The issue in question contains an article titled, “Coal. Guns. Freedom. A Week in the Life of the Town that Keeps Your Lights On,” focusing on the town of Gillette in the heart of Wyoming coal country.
The article includes a prominent pull-quote announcing in large letters, “The miners want you to know that if you own a Tesla, you are driving a vehicle that is likely powered by Wyoming coal.”
Small problem: If you live in California, that’s flat wrong. And given the magazine’s title and distribution, one assumes it has a substantial California readership.
California generates virtually no power from coal. We do import a little coal power, but it represents just 6.4 percent of California’s electricity supply, less than a third of the proportion generated by renewables, while that renewable proportion that continues to grow. So no, your Tesla or Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf is not powered by Wyoming coal if you live in this state. Our electricity supply, while not carbon-free, is pretty clean. That’s one of the reasons Greenlining joined the Charge Ahead campaign, which seeks to boost the number of electric cars and trucks on our roads and make them affordable to low-income families.
I wrote to the editors about the error and received a rather snippy reply, telling me that their readership isn’t just in California and pointing out that buried in the text of the article is a longer version of the sentence quoted above that adds a couple of qualifying words: “…you are driving a vehicle that is likely powered in part by Wyoming coal.” Despite my followup asking them to at least change the pull quote online, they did nothing further.
Obviously, it’s too late to fix the print copies. But this slick and widely circulated magazine could easily correct the online version. It’s disappointing that the editors don’t seem to care.
UPDATE 11/7/15: After five days of the magazine ignoring my followup to its initial response, I got an email this afternoon informing me that the erroneous pull quote had been amended online to say “powered in part by Wyoming coal,” a definite improvement. The fix occurred less than 24 hours after this blog appeared and a number of people tweeted about it. Coincidence? No way to know for sure. As Fox News says: We report, you decide.