Sunday, May 10, 2009

Will fewer journalists make it easier for dirty politicians to operate in all communities?

As I returned home from a round of visiting candidates for the mayor of San Antonio and City Council at their post election parties, I had to think of the comments of David Scott, the producer of the HBO series "The Wire" before a Senate subcommittee hearing on the demise of newspapers.
From one of the many sound bites that appeared on mainstream media this week, Scott questioned the loss of editorial space and what I would term as the bandwidth to cover politicians. To paraphrase Scott, a lot of dirty politicians are happy that there aren't as many journalists around to snoop about their crooked deals.
"I am offended to think," he said in an article published by the Associated Press, "that anyone anywhere believes American institutions as insulated, self-preserving as police departments, school systems, legislatures and chief executives can be held to gathered facts by amateurs, pursuing the task without compensation (or) training."

The business of newspapers has changed for my friends at the San Antonio Express-News. The editorial hole (the actual amount of inches for the newspaper) has shrunk considerably in the past few months. Reporters are losing their jobs due to cutbacks, and the ones still on the job have to do more with less. Add in the requirements to blog, and it's hard for any newspaper reporter to truly get the time to focus on the dirt at City Hall or the local police station.
So, is it up to bloggers like me who can report on the issues at hand? I am thankful that my editors at "MySA" have allowed me the opportunity to blog on issues such as the performance of the San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative in promoting technology. As a trained journalist, I tried to report the facts on this organization's performance. The response from one anonymous SATAI patron was kind of interesting.
"Perhaps all readers and commenters should take a look at SATAI's charter, which is NOT technology promotion" was the response to that blog posted several weeks ago. "You tech bloggers are much better suited to promotion."
It's sad when a city-funded organization thinks of me as promoter instead of a concerned citizen who wants to see a more professional deployment of our tax dollars. So like Scott, the producer of "The Wire," consider me one of those bulldogs who will bark and also bite when politicians don't perform to the standards I've set for them.

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