Covering your local government
With lots of stories covering the federal government these days, it may be proving hard to convince your editor to cover the local government news. Use this story pack, full of story ideas and tips to get the most out of your story, to show that the local government beat should not be overlooked.
Investigating Local Government
Jaquiss tipsheet covers tips for investigating local government. He stressed the importance of knowing your sources and their motivations and the understanding what documents you're looking for and what is available. Jaquiss says, "Your job in covering local government is to explain to readers how resources are being allocated. You work for your readers, not elected officials or your sources. Do not be a stenographer."
Mining the web for data and stories
Mellnik and Dowdell provide a list of searchable government data that can be found online - from statistics to public records and much, much more. They have also included links to data you can download and advanced search strategies to improve your reporting.
Tracking the stimulus in your community
LaFleur equips reporters with the tools they need to track stimulus funding within their community.
Starting in the Neighborhood
Hall describes how to build a network of sources, and dig into data and reports, and examine the performance of local government. He talks about proactive reporting through attending public meetings and meeting people.
Tip Sheet for Investigating Local Government
Quinlivan provides seven tips for broadcasters who are investigating their local government. She gives guidelines for good investigations, tips on how to plan for follow-ups and advice on how to deal with documents.
Washington Mardi Gras, Pay to Party
Local public officials and employees attend D.C. Mardi Gras festivities each year at taxpayer expense. Is it all work or play? Reporters found local government spent more than $80,000 for the festivities in 2009.
PolitiFact: The States
PolitiFact, a project of the St. Petersburg Times, is an effort to expand political fact checking to the state and local level. The site published over 1000 articles in 2010 that studied claims made by politicians and then rated them on their accuracy.
County Hall: The Perks of Public Office
The series looks at local politicians and their spending habits. These habits were rather lavish for a local government which had to cut spending on certain programs. The stories focus on “everything from how commissioners were using aides as personal chauffeurs to the global travel the commissioners took with no benefit to taxpayers”. Further, advisors of the mayor were receiving “double digit” pay raises, while the budget was crumbling.
"Ave Maria: A Town Without A Vote"
Reporter Liam Dillon investigates the local government of a Southwest Florida town. The two developers of the community of Ave Maria lobbied for a law that gives them total control of the local government. According to the law, landowners, instead of registered voters, have the "ultimate authority." Some say power of that magnitude could be considered unconstitutional.