by Marion Marks
Reading the Shreveport Times, it’s all too often interesting to evaluate just how much backbone and investigative journalism exists regarding the examination and reporting of local or national issues, particularly noting the long-term annual loss of subscribers and the shrinking small business base. However on Sunday an editorial on the water billing error appeared that gives me hope that the spine and backbone may be returning to the once-proud local paper.
There have been may questions concerning the choice of stories that make the front section and those that never makes it to press. These choices cause long-time subscribers, concerned citizens and news junkies to question the integrity of the Gannett staff, or has it only been the lazy path of least resistance, “not rocking the boat.” Locallybased independent media have siphoned off readers and now offer choices the audience appreciates and readily absorb. And, repeated self-marketing, exorbitant advertising rates as well as questionable resource utilization give local businessmen pause from supporting Gannett.
Shreveport City Council, Mayor’s office and Caddo Parish Commission and Parish administrative branches have been in focus with issues in recent months. But deeper investigative work appears to be severely limited, even when obvious follow-up paths exist. From the water billing “SNAFU” tied to city contracts, shady operators and former employees or contractors and the General Motors plant contract that appears committed to an Elio “coffin on three wheels,” local sweetheart deals and former officials who benefit from insider work, the public may have reason to distrust reports coming from the press that never draw any real conclusive details that force decisions.
Integrity in reporting is all most reporters have when it comes to asking readers or viewers to accept reports as news worth versus being little more than advertorials. We see far too many of the latter that are no more than fluff to put names and faces in front of the public and stroke egos! The breath of fresh air we see in Shreveport coming from independent publications or blogs online as well as in print offer meaningful analysis. They requires that readers invest time and generally readers pass along their material through social media.
Suggested local online media that’s “Worth a look” includes:
The Shreveport Times has spent, to date, what might cost another paid advertiser over $15,000 marketing a half-hour meet & public relations event. The public invitation states, “November 10 the Shreveport Times invites you to meet our new editor, Jeff Gauger. Jeff is a newcomer to Shreveport-Bossier city and is excited to hear your thoughts about The Times and share his vision of how we can serve as a community connector. The event will take place from 5:30-6:00 at the Robinson
I want to suggest that Mr. Gauger find time to interview some of the independent investigators, bloggers and those who have a readership outside of the mainline Gannett circle. Nationally Gannett has made the commitment that Shreveport will be coming to the online media party, although a bit late and at somewhat a disadvantage. But as long as this much money has been spent on the same ad, and it appears that this will run up until a peak around November 10th, then we may as well see that they get some bang for their buck. Otherwise the Times is committing a very slow and painful suicide.