Every time that I write about the demise of newspapers, I get a bunch of commenters asking what we will do when the newspaper is gone. They used to ask where we will get accurate information, but I've spent so much time showing that the stuff you get in the newspaper is carefully scripted, agenda based and inaccurate, that most of the comments now ask what will happen to all the reporters, editors, delivery personnel etc. My answer is that most of them will find more productive jobs; some of them, of course--Linda Valdez, EJ Montini--will be unemployable, but they have had a good run making six figures and producing nothing, so it's hard to feel too bad.
But I digress. Some folks still mention the old "where will we get accurate news" canard, so I thought it would be a good time to focus on a story that the Republic is currently botching.
You may be aware that the Tohono O'oham tribe has purchased land in Glendale and wants to build a full blown casino on it. This is a major national story but the Republic doesn't realize it so the story is being handled out of the west side zone section of the paper.
Indian Gaming is complex and much of the law is in flux. ASU Law school has a separate degree program in Indian Law and a course in Indian Gaming. It's a multi-billion dollar industry and the Glendale case is about to blow it wide open. Part of the compromise in the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act was that tribes wouldn't build casinos in urban areas. That promise was also explicitly stated when the Arizona tribes asked voters to approve the gaming contracts in 2002.
Now the Tohono O'dham want to overturn compromises in IGRA as well as the compacts and build a casino on land that's nowhere near their reservation...and is indeed in the middle of a city. This case will be studied for years and if the T.O. are successful, tribes around the country will follow suit. States around the country will then respond by either opening up gaming for everyone...which would ultimately destroy Indian Gaming, or by demanding that Congress repeal IGRA. It's a high stakes gambit and if successful will have repercussions all over the country. And the Republic coverage is being phoned in from the West Valley zone. The Republic has largely ignored the legal ramifications in favor of the economic development perspective...and the economic development perspective is clear wrong.
If you want to see an example of how weak the coverage has been, check out this story about the fiscal impact of the casino. The story says that the casino will have a 150,000 feet gaming area and a 600 room hotel. The economic impact will be:
The study estimates that the project would bring 6,000 construction jobs to the area during the two-year building phase and employ 3,200 people when open, sometime in 2012.
Then the tribe decided to scale the casino way back. The reduced the gaming floor by 2/3rds to 55,000 feet and cut the rooms from 600 to 400. The article that announced this scaling back also contained an economic development impact. So if the first casino was going to employ 6,000 people during construction and employ 3,200 when open...then how many people would be employed in casino one thrid the size?
A tribal-commissioned study estimates the project would create 6,000 construction jobs and more than 3,000 permanent jobs.
Golly, almost exactly the same. That's because the reporter continues to quote a tribal study that the newspaper hasn't actually seen.
Is that journalism? Is that the accuracy that everyone tells me will be lacking when the papers are gone?
It's great that Dennis Wagner managed to write a multi-thousand word summary of Fast and Furious six months after I broke the story locally...but that's not why we have newspapers.
So how about a multi-thousand word story that really looks into the nationwide implication of the proposed Casino? Or if thousands of words are too much to offer, how about an in-depth analysis of the project and the legal cases that accompany it...instead of the current stories that simply reprint tribal press releases?
Now that would be journalism.