Journalistic Infill Missing

The Arizona Republic (aka AZCentral.com) has recently taken a stance on commenting on their online articles that makes it more difficult for readers to pose questions, fill in details, and express opinions on articles. If they were going to do all that and simultaneously raise the bar of their coverage (i.e., more details, more points of view included) it wouldn’t be so much of a degradation of quality. However, they simply haven’t stepped up.

I don’t fault the reporters, who are probably spread pretty thin and have to answer to their editors on what they cover and to what depth. Still, it is a very short-sighted policy that detracts from community engagement and quality of community conversation. It also hurts the credibility of their product to the news consumer.

At the same time, though, it makes it all the more important that other sources out in the blogosphere are filling in some of those details.

This article isn’t about the Downtown Infill Incentive District (so I’m going to let myself off the hook for the details of that subject). However, an AZC article posted on it today is a great example of the situation I’m describing.

There are many missing details like:

  • How did the DIID come into existence?
  • What is the DIID and what specifically does it change about zoning policy?
  • How do these changes potentially affect the character–and thus the attractiveness–of Downtown Scottsdale?
  • What is the potential cost in terms of infrastructure, tourist appeal, etc.?
  • According to an earlier article, “Other proposals calling for additional heights have drawn criticism from nearby residents.” Who opposes the “controversial” DIID and why?
  • What has been the role of the Chamber of Commerce in promoting the DIID, and which of their members is dominating that effort?
  • Mayor Lane and the City Council were warned the U.S. Egg project was a ‘fix and flip’ long before the AZC article cites John Berry as saying, “The zoning change and amended development standards are needed to make the property more marketable and accelerate development,” [quotes inferred from the article]. There is no real project here, just a pure upzone for profit.
  • Bristol Stadium Lofts project manager Terry O’Neill is quoted as saying, “We don’t need another public outreach, but if any resident would like more information, I’m open to meeting anywhere.” This article does NOT say that the one “public outreach meeting” was held Thanksgiving Eve at 5:30 p.m. on a site with no power, and that city staff has explicitly stated this meeting will NOT be allowed to count toward required public outreach.
  • The CF Waterfront Investments “partially-demolished building near Scottsdale and Camelback Roads,” is actually at Camelback and Shoeman.

I will try to provide details on all of these projects as they advance through the process.

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6 Comments

  1. John-
    Kudos on focusing on an issue, Arizona/Scottsdale Republic publishing incomplete and/or ‘error’ laden articles, that clearly call for clarification
    or comment. Prior to a recent change in policy (?) readers could react.
    Now, however, there is a matter of censorship subtly introduced to the
    Abysmal Repugnant. Beyond movie schedules and puff pieces, with a large
    dollop of reprints of reprints from The Wall Street Journal, NYTimes and Associated Press, what is there?

      1. John-
        Unfortunately the “…loss of community dialog” simply feeds into the poisonous growth of rumor and innuendo. Much of this stems from
        the Manross/Dolan era when each took a decidedly negative view, and
        showed it toward ANYONE that may have challenged their schemes and
        scams (See: Taxpayer money used for ‘marketing’ at auto dealers on
        McDowell….as they were vacating en mass).

  2. John,

    If they encourage feedback, that will take staff to read and even some executives to think about the better items. It’s an old strategy that has proven itself through the ages.

    Revenues are down, so we’ll reduce service and increase prices. Then, revenues go down again so more service reductions and more prices increase, etc., etc.

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