Monday, August 29, 2005

Watchdogs

I had a FWMN reader email me to ask what I thought of Dan Stockman's special report in Sunday's JG on the malfeasance being committed by the people running the Olin B. and Desta Schwab Foundation. First and foremost, it was great investigative reporting by Stockman; kudos also to the JG for giving him the time and resources necessary to cover the story so well.

But it also reminded me of how negligent local media (especially those in print) have been in their generally accepted role as community watchdogs, which includes being on the lookout for and exposing situations similar to the Schwab Foundation. There's plenty of shady things happening in Allen County, but somehow none of them seem to make the papers. (Unless it's relayed over the police scanner, of course.)

And let's not forget the dearth of investigative pieces from local television stations, which are often more effective in prompting change.

For example, several years ago, a hidden-camera investigation into
the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of local restaurants by the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles prompted the city to start giving individual restaurants grades (A, or B, or even -- gasp -- C) according to how well they did on their inspections, and requiring those restaurants to post that grade in their front window. Suddenly, restaurants had a new (and powerful) incentive to do their best to maintain clean and healthy conditions.

I think that a similar system would serve Fort Wayne as well, but it might take another hidden camera expose┬┤ to prompt the city or county council to act. If you happen to be a television station news director, remember: November sweeps are just around the corner...

UPDATE: A reader suggests a topic for Dan Stockman's next investigative piece.



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