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Feds want more power lines

A law passed in 2005 gave the federal government more power in controlling power lines in key areas that were of national interest. This past week, they are attempting to use that power, claiming that state and local governments are failing to act. The state local governments argue that the federal government is taking too much power, and that this gives the energy industry the upper-hand.

This is a complicated issue dealing with levels of governmental bodies, and though relatively boring on the outside, follows a key debate of just how much power the federal government should have, and when they exert their power, in whose interests are they acting.

The AP covered this story, with reporter Devlin Barrett. The story was picked up by many newspapers across the nation, including the Press-Enterprise in southern California. The LA Times put two of their own reporters on the story, since the primary corridors the government is looking at are the northern east coast and the southern part of California. The two reporters on that story are Marc Lifsher and Janet Wilson.

The AP gave a general overview of the story, doing his best to explain the latest news in the situation. They relied heavily on the Department of Energy for their information. The opposition to the new plan does not come until seven paragraphs into the story. He goes on to tell why this would be a good idea, relating it back to the blackouts on the east coast in 2003.

The LA Times stories stated the opposition side’s point of view much higher in the story, and fully explained their point of view. “Critics warned? came in the second paragraph, so right away, the reader knows that there is a controversy here.

The AP article gave the impression that everything is good and well, and because they didn’t give much time to the dissenting opinion, effectively endorsed the move made by the government, simply through omission.

The LA Times article could be criticized for demonizing the federal government with all of the attention given to the opposition. This is exactly what their readership would want to read, because it is heavily California-centric. They were catering to their audience.

Overall, I think that the LA Times did a better job in explaining the controversies, even if they did tend to lean the opposite way of the AP article.


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