L.A. Times Ripped For Allegedly Exaggerating Number Of Children Under L.A. County's Care Who Have Died
Others have been critical of the Times' coverage, but Heimpel spells out a litany of alleged problems with the paper's reporting on the county's embattled Department of Children and Family Services, including its assertion that the number of deaths involving children under its care have increased.
Among Heimpel's problems with the paper's coverage:
-Its reporting last month that abuse-and-neglect deaths of DCFS-supervised children rose from 18 in 2008 to 26 in 2009 -- with 21 such deaths so far this year. Heimpel argues that the Times ignored the fact that the state definition of abuse and neglect also expanded under a new law, so that suicide, drownings and other unintended deaths are recorded.
-The Times ignored Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN) numbers showing such deaths actually decreased from 1998 to 2008.
-The paper reported that the county supervisors misrepresented ICAN's numbers, when in fact, according to Heimpel, the sups' had simply echoed a typo from an ICAN report. ICAN's executive director, Deanne Tilton Durfee, actually requested a correction (and did not get one).
-In another October article the Times asserted that " ... the county's Office of Independent Review recently found that the department hid dozens of cases [of child deaths] from the public." Except that there's no evidence to support that contention, Heimpel writes. The Times has refused the correct that one as well.
Heimpel calls the the Times coverage of DCFS "selective reporting."
He writes that the paper's stories on DCFS are ...
" ... built on contested, murky numbers, requests from sources to correct errors disregarded and the theory explaining the suggested jump based in conjecture, its only anchor a data point taken widely out of context. The Times' myopic, misleading and reckless reporting has sparked a misinformed panic, posing a very real threat to many of Los Angeles' most vulnerable children."