The Los Angeles criminal trial of former Fleishman-Hillard employees Doug Dowie and John Stodder is less a media circus than a "media neighborhood church revival on a rainy afternoon," as our LA bureau chief Randi Schmelzer describes it.
If that continues to be the case, it will work in Fleishman's favor. There's media interest - from an LA Observed blog item two weeks ago, to last Sunday's LA Daily News piece, to last week's LA Times California section column one - but we'll need to see more courtroom action before we see any significant continuing coverage.
General audiences are probably blissfully unaware that this has finally reached the courtroom, and city and industry types are referring to it as "the Dowie trial" rather than, as some may have feared, "the Fleishman trial." While that may change with the civil trial next month, the case is moldering; it has been under investigation for two years, and right now, it's not getting any sexier. Most of the Jim Hahn mayoral administration is gone, though Laura Chick - the city controller instrumental in questioning the DWP's contract with Fleishman in 2002 and bringing allegations to light - is still in office.
It may be because much of the LA media have moved on to new topics. There's the investigation into PI Anthony Pellicano, which seems hourly to reveal more secrets and ensnare more LA celebs and power brokers. There are the undocumented-worker protests, the transient-relocation plans, and mourning over the UCLA Bruins' now-ended basketball season. Or perhaps local media outlets are just plain understaffed.
That may be why only four reporters showed up for the trial's first official day: our own; Frank Stoltze from Pasadena-based KPCC public radio; the LA Times' Jean Guccione, who normally covers state courts; and the LA Daily News' Beth Barrett, who regularly reports on the DWP. That's good news for Fleishman. Less is more.