A newspaper is a lot of things, especially now, when more and more people are finding their news on phones, tablets or computers instead of the traditional printed daily paper.
News is also a lot of things, among them:
Breaking news: Events as they happen, especially well-suited for digital delivery.
News of record: Election results, government decisions, places to go and things to do, a chronicle of life on a personal or community level.
Explainers and problem solvers: Telling readers the why and how behind events.
And then there’s watchdog journalism. Those are the stories where we show what’s behind public statement, the meeting minutes or the reasons behind an action taken by officials. Watchdog stories hold officials accountable.
Here are some stories The Olympian reporters dug into for you this month:
• Vaccinations, or lack of them, are big news, especially with a measles outbreak traced to Disneyland. Reporter Lisa Pemberton dug into school records and found student-by-student numbers on vaccination rates, which were calculated in various ways. One local district said the information was available only by public records requests, but when they were told other districts had complied, decided to provide the data.
• Public agencies and governments get sued all the time, but a “reverse racism” lawsuit against the city of Olympia was unusual. Reporter Andy Hobbs got the details on the suit, which was filed by a garbage collector who was fired last year after a confrontation with a resident. The former employee is Caucasian and the resident is African-American. A trial date is expected to be scheduled at a hearing in May.
• The restaurant inspections The Olympian runs every week are very popular with readers. Online producer Tammy McGee compiles the information every week and prepares it for print and digital production. To get a better understanding of how the Health Department works and what inspectors look for, reporter Lisa Pemberton spent a day on the job. It was a chance for readers to get a better understanding of the process behind the popular listing of results.
• The day a chemical leak closed down part of downtown Olympia, there was a lot of understandable confusion, as emergency responders cleared the area. Port officials identified the substance as hydrogen peroxide. After agencies had a chance to fully investigate, reporter Rolf Boone requested the records and found out that the amount and strength of the spill was much greater than originally thought.
These are some of the ways we took the extra step to get you the story behind the story.
Thanks for reading.