Giving Lu Parker a Pass
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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.
TV reporter Lu Parker finally decided to speak about her relationship with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
But, as sometimes happens with these things, we didn't really learn very much. And I'm not certain that's her fault.
Parker agreed to talk to a Los Angeles Times reporter mostly to help promote a benefit run for her nonprofit foundation.
Now..there's two things, right off, that make Parker one of the most interesting and interview-worthy TV reporters in LA.
Her boyfriend is the mayor. And she has a charity devoted to helping homeless animals and at-risk youth in South L.A.
Those things we knew before Parker sat down with Times reporter Greg Braxton. After seeing the story, the questions that naturally flow from those two pieces of information are still unanswered.
The story revisited Parker's bio as a former Miss South Carolina and Miss USA. A few years ago she moved up from San Antonio to the L.A. market at Channel 5.
She talks in the piece about being happy in her relationship with Villaraigosa. The most fulfilled she's ever felt in her personal life, she says.
On that, there's only so much we should expect to know. It's, legitimately, private.
We might WANT to know if they're living together and what they do when they go out…and how much she's involved in his family.
Parker has blogged about coaching the mayor's daughter how to drive, for instance….
But it's really up to them how much they share those details.
There are some questions, though, that would have been fair to explore. Like how do she and the mayor separate their professional lives.
The story barely glosses over any conflicts around her reporting for KTLA, and spends more time on her having a website with modeling photos.
One big area that the Times really should have delved into is her rising profile as an animal advocate.
Parker blogs about trying to save rescue dogs, and her own dog. And that's fine.
Her website also refers, in several places, to her as an animal activist. A vegetarian who has gotten the mayor to eat less meat.
She and the mayor have shown up at events for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
In LA, animals are a hot button political issue. Villaraigosa is already on his third director of Animal Services. His neighbors in Windsor Square are subjected to regular loud protests by animal activists outside Getty House.
Same for the neighbors around UCLA professors who use animals in cancer and other scientific research.
With all that background, Parker's self-description as an animal activist begged to be asked about.
How does she feel about animals in medical research? Where does she draw the line on her activism and her journalism? She tells the Times that she feels journalism is only about a fifth of her life.
How does KTLA draw the line? In a special she hosted on Heal the Bay, the station proudly described her as an animal advocate.
It would have been nice to know where she and the mayor share common ground on the rights of animals. And where they don't.
It doesn't appear that she was asked.
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For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.