Call looks for improvement, expansion of coverage in ’07

Burke Wasson

Burke Wasson

By BURKE WASSON

The Call usually devotes this space to tell public figures how to improve. But in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, this week’s column focuses on how we can. Quick tip — anyone with a less-than-stellar opinion of this publication should hold onto these words for future reference.

A common criticism is that we don’t publish enough positive news. While it’s often overlooked that our inside pages are filled with news briefs on award winners, newborn babies and weddings — all positive — I’d say that our front page could use a little more good news. But the day the Call becomes a haven for bylined press releases written by reporters too complacent, i.e. lazy, to question a source is the day I leave. We’ll look for more positive news, but never lose the desire that any self-respecting journalist should have to interpret the facts. If we wanted to report spoon-fed information, we’d be in PR or working for one of our competitors.

There’s also room to expand our coverage. Quite frankly, the Call should more thoroughly report on areas like Sunset Hills, the County Council and the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District. Because Executive Editor Mike Anthony and I are the Call’s only salaried staff reporters, we can’t be everywhere at once.

But we should widen our coverage and not spend too much time in one area. That means you might not see us as often as you have in some places.

However, through the magic of recorded meetings, you can count on us to continue our coverage if we can’t be there in person.

But what you can’t count on is more free passes. There were a handful of instances this year when government entities didn’t provide requested information. We had every right to submit numerous formal Sunshine Law requests and probably should have. If anything, we were too easy. A newspaper can’t function in the dark.

So, south county, consider this a pledge to let the Sunshine in. If we can legally obtain your information, we will.

Finally, we’ll try to better show our readers the difference between a news story and an opinion column. Unless we print a rarely used news analysis, Page 1A is completely devoid of our opinion. On Page 4A, it’s loaded. But our primary job is to tell you the facts — not what to think. And when we say what we think, you can always disagree and are encouraged to do so.

That said, we will agree to hold ourselves to these standards in 2007.

As a reader, you should demand them.