Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Why newspapers remain important

Sources tell the Review-Journal that Wendell Williams will be fired from the city of Las Vegas, perhaps as early as today. His former supervisor, Sharon Segerblom, will be allowed to keep her job, which is only appropriate. Segerblom couldn't really discipline Williams without the support of the city higher-ups who kept giving him raises and promotions (including former Mayor Jan Jones, who encouraged the city to get as many employees in the Legislature as possible), even as he was violating policies and breaking laws.

Had the Review-Journal (and a much lesser extent, the Sun -- or, more to the point, Jon Ralston) failed in their relentless pursuit of the facts in this case, Williams would have not only kept his job, but quite possibly continued up the city hierarchy, landing lifetime patronage posts for a lot more people than his "special friend," Topazia Jones.

This is the type of story that TV just can't nail. It requires weaving disparate strands of information into a coherent narrative (with appropriate visuals). It's not soundbite-friendly ... until all the evidence has been gathered, the story told, the argument made. It's why newspapers (even if they one day become completely virtual) remain important. It's a proud day for print journalism.

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