The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 22, 2008
How should state worker misconduct be covered?

971-JV_DUMBRIQUE_01.standalone.prod_affiliate.4.JPGAs reported by The Bee's Andrew MacIntosh in this story, former state worker Rachel Rivas Dumbrique has pleaded no contest to a single felony count of illegally downloading state human resources records and shipping them to her personal e-mail account. She'll be sentenced in November.

While this case clearly is newsworthy -- Dumbrique committed a felony by compromising thousands of personal information files -- not every instance of employee misconduct deserves airing in The Bee.

This is on our mind because we're regularly getting tips about state worker misconduct (usuallly from state workers). Each time one comes our way, we ask several questions:


  • If we write about this, who will care?

  • Is this costing taxpayers' money through diversion, theft or inefficiency?

  • Is health, safety or property at risk?

  • Does this exemplify a larger trend worth public attention?

  • Does this indicate holes in the system to keep people or agencies accountable?

There are more, but you get the idea.

So what do you think? What filters, if any, should the media have when covering state worker misconduct? What is the line between reporting misconduct and bashing state workers?

Photo credit: José Luis Villegas / Sacramento Bee

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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