CJR Daily—"real-time media criticism from the Columbia Journalism Review"—has watered down its recent praise for the Los Angeles Times series about problems with the Kaiser Permanente kidney transplant problem. The series was powerful, CJR says, it just wasn't exclusive or in some cases even first to the story.
The [Times] stories, we said, marked "journalism that is the very definition of a public service."
As it turned out, that piece failed to recognize the crucial work of another California news organization which deserves just as much credit for its role in breaking and advancing the Kaiser story with a concurrent and continuing set of impressive reports: KPIX-TV in San Francisco.
At 7:38 p.m. on the evening of May 2, in fact, it was CBS 5's investigative team, led by reporter Anna Werner, which first broke the explosive Kaiser news in an online piece headlined, "Kaiser Permanente SF Facing Transplant Troubles" -- shortly before the Times published its first article.
Later that night CBS 5 led off its 11 p.m. newscast with Werner's story -- and it was a whopper.
And on it has gone, as Werner has reported new developments as the story has unfolded -- from the public apology to patients by Kaiser's top official in Northern California, to Kaiser's stunning decision to suspend its transplant program, to the problems afflicting even the hotline Kaiser set up to help its kidney patients transition back to care at outside hospitals.
And so permit us to revise our earlier statement: Both the journalism produced by the Times and that produced by KPIX performed a public service here. Each investigation played to the strengths of its medium, and together the Times and KPIX's initial stories exposed the manifold problems of the Kaiser program, setting the stage for the striking changes to come -- changes that have already helped many patients' lives.
My search of the Times' Kaiser stories on Proquest finds no mention of the KPIX investigation.