By Hunter Ford
Capstone Report founder Alan Atchison led off the Finebaum show on the day after the Super Bowl with a distinctive topic, namely that he believes the Birmingham News is acting as a public relations firm for Auburn athletics.
He had some great points but I believe he stopped way short. When you’re aiming at big game, go ahead and fire both barrels Alan. Atchison said he believes the News uses different standards of coverage when dealing with Auburn athletics, than with the University of Alabama. I’m totally with him on that, and I agreed with what he said on Finebaum in that regard.
But Alan praised “The Snooze” for its general news coverage. He missed the mark completely on that. The Snooze like most other major newspapers has become fat, lazy and cheap. They are missing or ignoring stories because they don’t want to put real time and effort into the true craft of journalism.
Sure, they run plenty of stories about Larry Langford and other politicians who have been convicted of corruption. But reporting on investigations (and their outcomes) is different than investigative reporting.
There are plenty of enterprise stories The Snooze could be working on right now. They could be doing some real legwork on casino gambling in other states, its effect on the economy and its social implications, and the real opinions of the people in Alabama. Instead, the Snooze simply reports on what the governor spews out, what Milton Macgregor regurgitates and what the convoluted courts and the dead head politicians say.
Years ago, I worked in northern Jefferson County for a small community newspaper. I reported on a story that had to deal with whether or not a Ruby Tuesday restaurant would open in the area. A large local church was using its vast influence to try and prevent the chain restaurant from having a liquor license. The local politicians all denied it. I made a simple phone call to corporate headquarters and was told by a representative that yes, indeed, the hold-up for not going ahead with the project was that the local government wanted Ruby Tuesday to either not serve any alcohol or have a restricted license, serving only beer and wine. Corporate headquarters told me they had strict specifications for their restaurants and would not deviate from the model.
This may sound boring, but was connected to another larger issue of whether the church was stifling growth in the area.
The Snooze totally missed the potential story.
The Snooze also missed, or chose to ignore, a huge story about former Hoover High football coach Rush Propst. That is until the story was broken by a reporter from a community weekly paper and blown up on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network. By the way Capstone Report was also heavily involved in the Propst story before The Snooze laid one finger on a keyboard. Check the Capstone archives.
The Snooze then reported on the following major investigations and fallout. The Snooze racked up a couple of awards for its reporting of the investigation. Once again, reporting on investigations is different from investigative reporting.
The great American humorist Will Rogers once said that a man is not completely informed unless he reads at least one “country” newspaper. You can read the New York Times, you can watch ESPN, you can choose any major media outlet you want. But if you are not paying attention to the so-called little guys (community papers or blogs) your perspective will be very narrow, and your understanding of the issues of our time will be severely limited.