ProPublica Illinois has produced some good reporting on video gambling in Illinois, in a report The Bad Bet: How Illinois Best on Video Gambling and Lost.
It shows how lobbyists wrote the law (A common occurance in Illinois & many other states) and how the law isn’t living up to its promise in helping the state budget (not counting social costs etc).
ProPublica Illinois has put out an explainer of how they analyzed data for the story. When you read this, you will realize that even in a small newsroom, you could probably do something like this. You need to think in advance on the approach. Here is a good lesson in reporting in How We Analyzed Video Gambling In Illinois. They promise to add more to this methodology as they continue with their series.
Even if you are unable to take a project of this magnitude on, you will see they used references that are available to the public and which could provide you with the nugget you need for your own local follow-up.
Tip of the Week
Our Tip of the Week comes from The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University.
To cover a local or regional economy, you need to know what makes it tick. Find a few lists, or compile them on your own:
• Fortune 500 companies based in your area
• Other local publicly held companies
• The largest privately owned companies in your region
• The 10 largest employers in your locality. These could include government operations or educational institutions
• The largest unions in your area
• Other significant industries that might not be represented above, such as agriculture
Now get out your appointment calendar and start setting up meetings with people who are connected to each of these organizations or fields. It doesn’t have to be the CEO or the corporate communications official. Sometimes, the people in between are a better first stop.
Add to your list the head of the local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau and nearest business school, and any government officials connected to economic development. Ask each person you meet for the names of other people you need to know in order to understand the local economy. Even if you have just one informational meeting a week, you’ll be well-connected to your business community within a few months.
Look for productive ways to tap your community via social media, too. Start exploring which blogs, Facebook and Twitter sites might link you to people in the know about what’s happening in your region’s economy. (Originally reported by Pam Luecke)