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July 25, 2010

It’s summer. The flow of news has slowed, and now reporters, the good ones, that is, are writing stories based on their own initiative.  

You might think that all stories are based on an individual reporter’s initiative, but not so. Reporters tend to do things en masse. They cover the same news conferences, talk to the same sources and pretty much write the same news stories.

This is especially true of the reporters covering state government, and it’s not a good situation.

The best tradition of the profession (and we would argue the key to its commercial revival) lies in enterprise, but we simply don’t see much of it. 

The Times tries. It has charged its reporters with ferreting out the real Andrew Cuomo, but hasn’t come up with much beyond a few mildly critical stories. One of those stories took a look at how Cuomo serves as his own press secretary, but the reporter never noted the fact that Cuomo hasn’t given one on-the-record interview with any media outlet other than the Post in more than a year. 

Newsday has a good tradition of enterprise and this weekend broke a story examining the voting records of the AG candidates. It revealed that Nassau DA Kathleen Rice hasn’t voted in 18 years. 

Another of our favorites is the Village Voice, where Wayne Barrett and Tom Robbins pride themselves on being iconoclastic. 

We’re also fans of the Albany Times Union, which can be really ballsy in going after local icons. The paper recently raised a host of questions about Ward Stone, who, because he’s a favorite of the environmental community, has been able to get away with things no other state worker could. 

The tabs are something of a disappointment, as least so far. The News has excellent day-to-day reporting and commentary, but rarely goes further. 

And the Post? Well, the individual who can be the best reporter of all when he wants to be, is in some weird zone where he refuses to write anything critical or even questioning of the next governor. 

To assist our newspaper brethren we offer the following enterprise ideas: 

Why can’t someone do a real journalistic/scientific analysis of the risks of hydro-fracking? It’s a huge issue that could impact the NYC watershed. Gasland (see previous post) was propaganda. But if only a fraction of it is true, the state should not proceed. 

Why can’t someone do a real review of the Paterson administration? Who, exactly, is in charge? What’s happening in the agencies? What’s not? Just because Paterson is a lame duck doesn’t mean he should escape scrutiny. Can we really afford for state government to go into hibernation for the next six months? 

What is really at stake in the control of the State Senate? What happens if it goes back to Republicans? Would we get real reform per the Koch agenda? What happens if the Dems retain control? Will we face continued chaos? 

And, why can’t someone survey state economic development policies and figure out what New York is doing wrong? (We’d forever worship the reporter who does this one. It’s what the gubernatorial race should be all about, but there’s no meaningful discussion of job creation in New York.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 25, 2010 12:03 PM

    I wish someone would do an in-depth story on Paladino. Is he legit? Is there any there, there? He gets portrayed as a nut, but he’s got to have something on the ball to have been so successful in business.

  2. July 25, 2010 5:19 PM

    The best reporting these days is being done by the Gannett news bureau. Take this weekend’s output for an example. They target phony revenue projections, taxing authorities and government consolidation. They present a balanced approach to these issues, leaving the field for critics to draw their own conclusions.

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