Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Media Start to Roll on CIRM Lab Grants

The California stem cell agency called a news conference for this morning to trumpet its roughly $270 million in grants for stem cell lab construction. But even before the Los Angeles event occurred a number of stories and items popped up.

Three large, mainstream outlets that reach hundreds of thousands of readers or listeners carried generally positive reports.

A stem cell building "spree" was how Mary Engels described it in the state's largest newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, which generally has ignored the agency. Sabin Russell of the San Francisco Chronicle called it a lab construction "boom."

Russell also reported,
"This is an incredibly unusual opportunity that may never happen again, anywhere," said Ralph O'Rear, vice president for facilities and planning at Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato.
Buck is one of the institutions that applied for the grants.

The all-news radio station in San Francisco, KCBS, carried a brief item and probably will carry another later today. Coverage by radio and television is especially important for CIRM since most people get their news through those media. Radio stories on all-news stations also are often repeated a number of times throughout the day, magnifying the CIRM message.

On the smaller venues, the perspective on the lab program was more skeptical.

Chris Thompson on East Bay Express had a jaundiced view on his blog -- he referred to the grants as "hot, sticky money."

J. Wesley Smith, an attorney, author and foe of hESC research, quoted from the Chronicle story on his blog, Secondhand Smoke, and deplored the effort.
"I would have hoped that at a time when California is literally drowning in a $20 billion in deficit, that some restraint would be shown. But who was I kidding? This is the kind of moral corruption, pigs-feeding-at-the-trough kind of excess that undermines the people's confidence in government and our ruling institutions.

"Somebody ought to sue: Hint. Hint."
In Sacramento, both the California Healthline, an Internet news digest service from the California HealthCare Foundation and the Capitol Basement Internet news service mentioned the Los Angeles Times article in a roundup of California governmental news.

Today's news conference is likely to generate some television coverage in the huge Los Angeles market. More stories are likely to ripple out as the 12 recipient institutions send out their news releases in the days ahead. The more aggressive will ship out their stuff today.

CIRM, of course, will have its own news release. Look for it sometime after 11:30 a.m. PDT today, the scheduled time for the news conference.

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