Alternative weeklies, those hippie outposts of the old print media, often provide an important outlet for investigative stories that are far ahead of their mainstream competitors. The latest example is the exposure of dangerous design flaws in the Toyota Prius, first explored by the Houston Press, and reprinted in the OC Weekly, last April. Back then the carmaker dismissed the horror stories uncovered by Houston Press reporter Paul Knight as mere instances of “driver error.” But that explanation is no longer operative. [Updated 2/15/10.]