Sunday, May 22, 2005

A Good Sunday Read

Ever since I made my brief foray into state government, Doug Finke's Statehouse Insider has been my favorite read in the Sunday SJ-R. It has all of the elements of a good gossip column, with nary a mention of Paris Hilton.

Here's why it's a good thing for the news-reading, government-following public. The governor has the ability to control news content to a fairly significant degree. If he calls a news conference or issues a news release, the press is pretty much obligated to cover it - even if they know that the timing of the announcement is meant to be a distraction from another issue. The governor can also control news content by refusing to answer questions from the press, a tactic that seems to becoming increasingly popular with the Blagojevich team.

But Finke's column is almost immune from the governor's public relations efforts. He can write about anything that he hears or sees, he can draw on his trusted sources. The little slip-ups or faux pas that don't merit a story can get a few lines in Finke's column, to the governor's chagrin. He's a constant thorn in their side. And the public gets to see the side of the administration that the administration doesn't want them to see. The press is supposed to serve as the public's eyes and ears to balance the power of government, Finke does a great job in this role.

No comments: