Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
  An Opportunity for some Journalism
The unfolding story about North Adams' self-insurance trust fund presents an interesting opportunity for our local paper. Can The Transcript devote the time and resources to actually understanding the issue - which includes tricky subjects like state insurance law, labor law, municipal accounting, etc.... - or will the reporting simply be "he said, she said" quotes.

I know the paper has very limited resources these days, but this is the kind of story that can and will increase readership if residents believe that they can actually learn something. The reporters at the paper are smart cookies. They can figure it out if given the time to do some independent analysis.

At the risk of overstepping, let me suggest a few things:
1) Ask the unions for their numbers and analysis. Sit down with someone and have them go through their allegations in detail.
2) Ask the city and its officials for their numbers and analysis.
3) Call the state insurance commission and ask for a quick tutorial on municipal self insurance trust funds.
4) Investigate the allegations that this issue is why Mary Katherine Eade resigned from her position a couple years back.
5) Explain the difference between the private audit that the city performs on its books and the public audit that the unions are requesting.
6) Most importantly, take the time needed to understand the whole picture. If that means that a few mundane stories do not get written this week, so be it. This one is a biggy!
Good luck with this. Tight budgets, election year politics, opaque and boring subject matter, etc.... will not make it easy.
Definitely agree with this. If the Transcript doesn't have the bandwidth to pursue this story properly, then why not hire a freelance journalist to work on it full time? There are lots of those folks out there looking for investigative gigs. Is the danger that they might dig up a bigger skeleton that the Transcript would like?
Given the absolute total take over of all news organizations by the death of Jacko, do you think people are really going to care?

All the latest celebrity deaths combined haven't used up 1/10th the resources that have been (in my mind) wasted on covering Jacko's demise.

I agree it would be a great re-birth for the Transcript, but will anyone who reads it, understand it - and more importantly - will they care?
That is one of the "Best Kept Secretes" of our little fiefdom.... People really do care!

As for Jack-O the Whack-O... Good riddance.
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