Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blogging the Backstory

 Amy Gahran
  Reporters who are wondering what to blog about, take note of a post published today in Watchdog Earth, by Louisville Courier-Journal environment reporter  James Bruggers : Covering the Army Corps of Engineers (http://www.courier-journal.com/blogs/bruggers/2007/07/covering-army-corps-of-engineers.html ) . It's a great example of how a reporter's blog can tie together past and ongoing stories, to give readers insight into the process of reporting.

Here's an excerpt:

"It turns out there was something new to [USACE] report. It just wasn't in the press release. There's a panel of outside experts made the recommendation. But this is a different panel that had previously recommended an even lower water level [at Lake Cumberland], while also seeming to endorse the status quo. ...However, it was difficult to tell the new story fully because the corps declined to release the letter from the new panel of experts. That raises questions about what else in the new recommendation they may be hiding.

"...During my reporting for this [July 28] story ( http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070728/NEWS01/707280434/1008/NEWS01) , an official told me I might have to file a federal Freedom of Information Act request for the new letter. That could take weeks, if not months, to work its way through the system."

All of that may seem mundane to news pros, but I suspect it's very useful information and education for local people who are interested in or affected by the troubled Wolf Creek dam. It's a way of saying: "I'm still on this story. Here's what I'm doing, here are the obstacles I face, and here are some ideas for what you can do if you want to gather your own information."

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