By Scott Underwood
The Herald Bulletin
Thursday was quite a day for news in Madison County! Two major events happened.
That afternoon, Madison County Corporation for Economic Development Director Rob Sparks provided The Herald Bulletin with details of a long-rumored reservoir. Mounds Lake Reservoir, as the project has been dubbed, would stretch from Anderson across seven miles into Delaware County and cover about 2,000 acres of surface area.
Several hours after the Sparks interview, Anderson City Council voted down Mayor Kevin Smith’s two annexation proposals, effectively quashing an effort that had consumed conversation in much of the county for the past month.
Now, whether the news in each case was good or bad depends on your perspective. But both developments were without debate “big” news.
In The Herald Bulletin newsroom, we discussed whether to hold onto the reservoir news for Sunday’s paper so that the story could be fully developed with maps and sidebars, and so that we could focus solely on the council annexation votes in Friday’s print edition. But we decided that it was important to publish a story about the reservoir right away to quench the thirst created by rumors that had been circulating. This decision was strengthened by the amount of detail and reaction to the reservoir proposal that we were able to gather Thursday.
As is often the case, a Herald Bulletin reporter — Stu Hirsch, in this instance — had been working behind the scenes for weeks to substantiate the reservoir rumors. But we’re not in the business of disseminating rumors in the guise of news, so we delayed publication until we could get accurate details. I believe most of our readers appreciate this caution, particularly in an age when misinformation is rampant in social media and on websites.
Both of the big stories — the annexations votes and the reservoir plans — fall into the city/county government beat manned by Hirsch. Needless to say, he worked a long Thursday. The council meeting lasted late into the night, and Stu was still putting finishing touches on both the annexations and reservoir stories as deadline approached. Fellow reporter Dani Palmer gave Stu an assist by writing a sidebar to the main reservoir article. Dani’s story detailed the reaction of business owners near Mounds Mall, an area the reservoir would flood.
We ended up pushing past deadline to get the most complete stories in the newspaper. Meanwhile, at theheraldbulletin.com and on Facebook and Twitter, we reported the votes from the council meeting Thursday night. And we posted our reservoir stories at theheraldbulletin.com just before midnight Thursday.
Both stories sent traffic on our website skyrocketing throughout the day Friday, illustrating the community’s intense interest in both.
Online and in the Saturday and Sunday print editions of The Herald Bulletin we published follow-up stories about the reservoir proposal. And we’ll seek to look further into the proposal this week.
If there are specific angles you would like to see covered, please shoot an email to me or Stu or give one of us a call. Stu’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org; his phone number is 640-4861.
Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Contact him at email@example.com or 640-4845.