Friday, December 18, 2015

A Look at News Coverage of California's New Plan to Create a Stem Cell Powerhouse

The California stem cell agency received modest news coverage today of the official launch of its five-year plan for spending its last $890 million.

Articles appeared in The Sacramento Bee, the San Diego Union-Tribune and on Southern California public radio. California Healthline also carried a piece that summarized most of the coverage.

The number of stories may seem insignificant to some, but it is much more than the agency usually receives. It has all but vanished from the public eye. Rest assured, however, that situation can change in a flash when something truly bad or good surfaces.

The coverage mirrors that of most state agencies, which operate in obscurity until a dramatic issue flares up.

We should mention that the only news outlet in the state that pays reasonably regular attention to the stem cell agency is the San Diego Union-Tribune. It has assigned Bradley Fikes to its biotech beat. He was the only reporter from the mainstream media at the meeting yesterday of the stem cell agency board.

Also of note was the agency's own blog piece, written by Kevin McCormack, senior director for communications. Here is how his item began.
"The poet T. S. Eliot once wrote: 'If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?' Well, everyone at CIRM, California’s stem cell institute, is about to find out how tall we are."
Here are links to the other pieces: The Bee (written by yours truly), the San Diego Union-Tribune, Southern California public radio (Stephanie O'Neill did two stories, see here and here) and California Healthline. The Bee piece may get picked up the other Bee newspapers in Fresno and Modesto.

(McCormack later reported the KQED radio station in San Francisco carried an item as well.)

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