Books

Local journo picks a bone over Vegas water tale

lake-mead-ktar.jpgEmily Green reported and wrote (and apparently went through editing hell to finally publish) a long series in the Las Vegas Sun on a big Nevada water grab. And she's miffed to find a lot of parallels between her reporting and a chapter on Nevada in "The Ripple Effect" by Alex Prud’homme. An excerpt from her piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Is this a big deal? The offending passages are in just one chapter of a very long book. I’d only told a Nevada story; Prud’homme set out to address “the fate of fresh water in the twenty-first century.” As anger ebbs and flows through my veins, I don’t know what I want from Prud’homme. There is no right response and there are plenty of wrong ones, including the one that I made after getting home from Vroman’s, which was to send him a drunken message via his website to the effect that I owned the book rights and I’d already been screwed by the Sun, which hadn’t wanted to publish it because it was too critical of Vegas, and that I’d lost whatever I might have made on it in a legal fight with them forcing them to publish....

As a contract was struck to define our respective rights, and the Sun and I went into production on the series, there were no fewer than 26 edits of the final whistleblower chapter, each one querying afresh if I had been unfair to Las Vegas’s water speculators and partial to the case of the rural protestors. By the time I finished more than a month of fact-checking and emerged from the long edit, I’d lost my shirt. When the story finally ran in June 2008, the ambitious architecture and scrupulous line and copy-editing wasn’t mine — it was by editors on the Sun’s news side. The paper also invested heavily in superb graphics and photography. But the reporting was mine, the perfectionism was mine. The 25,000-word piece had no corrections. My reward was walking away with ownership of the research and the right to use the series in a book.

I’ve yet to capitalize on the book rights and wondered, on seeing Prud’homme’s book, if I wasn’t mad at my own procrastination.

Prud’homme replied to Green that she has nothing to be irked about, and Simon & Schuster's lawyer said: “Frankly we are at a loss to understand what exactly it is you are complaining about.” Green blogs at ChanceofRain.com and writes about plants and gardening for the L.A. Times Home section.

Photo: KTAR.com


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