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Report or Not Report?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BadgerBeer, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. BadgerBeer

    BadgerBeer Well-Known Member

    A question for the board regarding a local story...A major company in a town may or may not be in negotiations with city and county officials regarding possibly moving operations to another state. The two sides are talking incentives, tax breaks, yada, yada, yada. The local powers that be have refused comment on the record and off the record have asked for cooperation as news leaks could very well destroy negotiations and lead to the move. If this company was to move it would be horrible for the town perhaps even leading to a major collapse.

    How do you deal with this? Knowing full well that a town's future could be negatively altered (I believe this to be the case) should you run with unnamed sources or not. One outlet has chosen to play it close to the vest...another media source has done the opposite. Your thoughts?
  2. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    There was a great episode of "Lou Grant" on this - if it's a legit deal public knowledge shouldn't affect things. Companies routinely play cities against each other, and will bolt as soon as they can get a bigger and better deal elsewhere. If things are that precarious for the city, that right there is the story.
  3. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Is anyone on the record talking about this? Are the unnamed sources credible?

    You obviously don't want to get this wrong or run anything half-baked, but it sounds like a major story that should be reported....if you have enough reliable info to report.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    If a major business is considering moving to another state, it's a story that you report if you can nail it down.

    I don't see how reporting that can affect the outcome. If you report specifics of the incentives, I guess they could play one off the other, but I don't see how you'd get that information on the record anyway.

    If I could confirm that the company is considering a move and is negotiating with other states, I'd sure as hell run it. I'd also talk to the skittish local folks and say that you won't print the details of the incentives (assuming you don't have them anyway) and try to make them think you are doing them a favor for consideration down the road.

    If they don't bite that you are doing them a favor, you need to let them know that the fact that ABC corp is considering moving to BFE is huge news for your readers and not something you can ignore but you will work with them as best you can.
  5. accguy

    accguy Member

    Another option is to request emails from public officials who would be working on the deal. They might drag their feet on this, however.
  6. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    If you can nail it down, there is absolutely no question you report this story.
  7. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    How small is the town? Are we talking about burning some major sources that you'll need for a long time?
  8. BadgerBeer

    BadgerBeer Well-Known Member

    This would be a huge concern.
  9. MrBSquared

    MrBSquared Member

    As huge as people holding the future of a good number of readers in their hands, and wanting to control the free flow of information? As huge as holding a big bargaining chip against the town? If it's out there, the company could bolt, but then it also might turn this into a straight-up negotiation, forcing the company to actually weigh its options in the face of public scrutiny, not holding a gun to the head of the town (or the potential new town) behind closed doors. If they are telling the town to keep it quiet, something fishy is going on. Because, in the end, in this economy, if a straight-up deal is going to mean a more secure financial future for the company, then it has no choice but to move. That would suck for your town, but would be legit and a fact of life. And, it would be something the company should be able to put out there with a clear conscience. But, if this a shakedown, that needs to be put out there, too.
  10. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    what he said. City officials quietly asking you not to write a story should send up all the red flags you require
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