The Herald Bulletin

September 30, 2013

Scott Underwood: Help THB develop 2014 news coverage priorities


— Every September, I huddle with The Herald Bulletin’s editors who help guide our news reporting to talk about the coming year and our coverage priorities.

While we try to wipe the slate clean and look forward with a fresh perspective, it’s inevitable that we always manage to come back to a set of priorities that is similar to the priorities of the previous year, and the year before that, and the year before that ...

The basic question to be answered is, what news topics are most important to the people of Madison County? Then, within those high-priority topics, what are the story lines to be followed and developed?

Here is our proposed priority list for 2014:

Economic development

It’s hard to argue that, more than anything else, the community — hit hard by a 19 percent poverty rate — needs businesses and industries to bring more jobs and expand the tax base to finance infrastructure improvements.

News coverage of proposals for Mounds Lake Reservoir and annexation are in the economic development coverage.

Education

The headliner of this coverage category is the new Ivy Tech Community College campus planned for property along Interstate 69. The $24 million project would be the largest, most expensive new facility in Anderson since the Nestle plant was built in 2006.

But the education category covers other important ground, too. It includes the quality of local K-12 education. And let’s not forget Anderson University, which adds educational and cultural dimensions while employing hundreds and bringing thousands to the community.

Election

Every fourth year, like 2013, is without an election, which magnifies the importance of the county, state and national elections that follow in 2014. The quality, commitment and philosophies of those elected help determine the future course of our county, state and country.

Health care

The battle over the Affordable Care Act rages, while Madison County residents rank near the bottom of the state in most measurements of health. Alcohol and drug abuse, tobacco use, obesity and a host of other ills depress our community.

Meanwhile, the landscape of the health care industry in Madison County takes new shape as needs and competitive pressures influence change.

Public safety

Police and fire protection are front and center now as local government units draft budgets for the coming year. And these essential services always seem to be on the minds of our readers.

What would you add to or replace on this list? As we finalize plans for our 2014 news coverage priorities, we want to hear from you, our readers, about what is most important.

Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @THBeditor. Contact him at scott.underwood@heraldbulletin.com or 640-4845.