It’s finals week, and I’m spending time in an alternate journalism environment: Phoenix.
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The annual American Copy Editors Society convention begins Thursday in downtown, but right now, I’m hanging out with former Oregon Daily Emerald multimedia and photo editor Dave Martinez in Surprise, Ariz., where he’s got a job as a photographer for the Daily News-Sun.
Yesterday, I got to follow Dave on assignment to a Community Conversation with Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs. The photo tip originally said there would be a Tea Party rally because people have been upset about Scruggs’ deal to keep the Phoenix Coyotes arena, but there was only one guy with a sign that read “Scruggs plus city council equals total financial insanity.” The leader of the Glendale Tea Party Patriots also attended the talk, and I noticed her shaking her head at one point during talk about the budget.
Still, the conversation was interesting for a few reasons: 1) Scruggs had all members of the media (two from the Daily News-Sun and three from the Arizona Republic out of 60 total people) identify themselves before the meeting started; 2) Scruggs had all members of the audience identify themselves, where they lived in Glendale and how long they had been here; 3) Scruggs explained the city budget’s specifics but never actually went into detail about what it meant for taxpayers.
Scruggs certainly wants to portray herself as the people’s mayor, someone who cares about the interest of everyday citizens. But because she didn’t explain the implications for taxpayers, that signaled to me the importance of these five members of the media in analyzing what that means for people. It’s one thing to be open and transparent, which Scruggs seems to be, but it’s another to tell citizens how their city government might affect them.
Here’s the Daily News-Sun’s story that came out of the meeting, as well as Dave’s photo. The headline reads “Glendale residents speak in support of Coyotes deal,” but keep in mind that most of the people at this meeting have been longtime supporters of Scruggs. And actually, at the beginning of the meeting, Scruggs specifically said the purpose of the meeting was not solely to talk about the Coyotes, but that’s what it turned out to be in the news.
Another exciting thing happening here in the valley: Surprise! My hometown Kansas City Royals are in the midst of spring training. I’m hoping to get to a game tonight or tomorrow night.
In other news, here’s what I’ve been doing all morning: Comparing front page coverage between wee liberal Oregon and ye old conservative Arizona. The big news today is the probably imminent Japanese nuclear power plant meltdown, and honestly, there’s not a ton of difference between the two states, just between the bigger and smaller cities.
Today’s Front Pages: Oregon vs. Arizona
Center story: Crisis in Japan — Nuclear troubles escalate
(Phoenix) Arizona Republic
Center story: Catastrophe in Japan — Meltdown looms as efforts halted (Similar to the Oregonian, the Republic writes a trend story about people buying sodium iodide pills and not a Q & A.)
(Tucson) Arizona Daily Star
Center story: Nuclear workers retreat
Bottom line: All newspapers have been cautious in saying that the radiation will not at some point pose a threat to the United States. The Oregon newspapers, though, do tend to talk more about implications for Oregon residents and seem to be less worried about the effects on the United States. Most papers used AP or other wire service content, except for the Oregonian and the Republic, which both have stories about sodium iodide pills and the effect on residents. The Statesman Journal had an almost entirely local angle for the story, which was a cool way to take it.
But now I’m going to venture outside and take a look around Surprise. I’ll keep you updated throughout the conference when it starts tomorrow.