Indie Reporting Bucks Big Papers’ ‘Bottom-Line Interests’

Jeff Cohen journalism student Christopher Lisee has a blog post (myxomatosis, 2/27/09) with video of an independent reporter’s question to University of Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun. Asked to justify his being the “highest-paid state employee” during “a $2 billion budget deficit,” the coach’s belligerent response–“my best advice to you… shut up”–has the questioner responding that “if these [other journalists present] covered this stuff I wouldn’t have to do it.” Which in turn is met by audible jeers of “oh give us a break.” But Lisee tells us questioner Ken Krayeske actually “prodded the mainstream media into action.”

Lisee follows “the barrage of media coverage by the Hartford Courant” from “objective analysis” of Connecticut “Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s request of a 5 percent across-the-board budget cut at state schools” and the fact that “no journalist… has asked Calhoun… about the merits of a pay cut” to reporting that “around the country, teachers, elected officials, casino employees, state employees, even newspaper reporters and a university president, are giving up some pay these days.”

With Krayeske’s bold question culminating in “calls for Calhoun to be disciplined in a letter from state legislators,” Lisee says, “He’s really started something”:

Krayeske is the sort of go-get-’em guy so essential to independent media. He’s not afraid to ask hard questions or get arrested for his views. He started a conversation that otherwise would not have begun….

It’s funny, in a way, because what Krayeske has essentially done is opened the door for mainstream media to start covering an issue that before would have been much more difficult taking into account the nature of beat reporting and papers’ bottom-line interests.