Tag Archives: public interest

Explanatory, multimedia package on desalination facility

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Headline: Deconstructing Desal in Santa Cruz
Outlet: Santa Cruz Sentinel
Journalist: J. M. Brown
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During a six-month investigation of a proposed $123 million seawater desalination facility in Santa Cruz, Sentinel staff writer J.M. Brown interviewed more than 60 water officials, scientists, utility customers and others to provide a deep look inside the financial, environmental and political implications of the city’s plan.

The amount of time Brown spent learning about the issue was readily evident throughout the package; it was clear the journalism was produced from a position of knowledge and authority. Complimented by a four-part video series and a live chat, Brown’s coverage was accessible to readers with varying amounts of background knowledge, as he also produced an easy-to-read ‘What we found’ breakout feature to accompany the package.

Public salary database exposes ‘double-dipping’

San Jose Mercury News Database
Headline: 'Double-dippers' rake in public money
Outlet: San Jose Mercury
Journalist: Tom Peele
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Investigative reporter Tom Peele spent more than two years building a database of public employee salaries and benefits. Last month provided Tom a chance to show the San Jose Mercury’s web and print audience just what that database can do.

In a time of dwindling newsrooms, the significant energy and resources put into this project helped expose a practice of ‘double-dipping’ among public employees who drew pensions from one municipality while receiving salaries from another.

El Paso Times breaks story with real cost to paper

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Headline: City delays El Paso Times building purchase
Outlet: El Paso Times
Journalist: Marty Schladen
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One of the greatest challenges a newspaper can face is covering a story that involves the paper directly. Such has been the case for the El Paso Times since the city announced its intention to buy the newspaper’s building. The purchase is part of a broader controversial effort to demolish City Hall to clear the way for a Triple A baseball stadium.

As the City Council was preparing to finalize the purchase of the Times building for $14 million, El Paso Times journalists obtained the city’s appraisal of the building and discovered the appraised value was $3.7 million below the purchase price. In a stunning display of incompetence, city officials hadn’t really read the appraisal until Times reporter Marty Schladen started asking about it. Although the discovery risked costing the company several million dollars, the Times broke the story and has continued to follow the issue. Almost a month later, the fate of the sale is still uncertain.