February 22, 2010

Recession and booze - Getting the story

Journalism is more than just repeating numbers and getting a pithy quote. Good reporting also provides context. It helps explain why a story is important.

The Detroit Free Press ran a piece over the weekend on how the number of liquor licenses keeps increasing despite the dwindling population in the Metro Detroit area.

Liquor flows in abundance despite population decline

My first reaction to the headline -- from the front page teaser -- was that the article would be about how much liquor is being sold. From that I would hope the reporter would ask experts to comment on whether the hard times Michigan is facing is leading to the increase in liquor sales. And then what are the social concerns of more people feeling depressed (due to job loss) and drinking more.
  • Are drunk and disorderly arrests up?
  • How about domestic violence?
  • Divorces/separations?
But no. The 300-word article is about the formula for issuing liquor licenses and how the numbers are askew. Nothing at all about the actual flow of liquor.

I understand limited resources the newspaper has. But how hard would it have been to get some sample numbers of actual liquor sales? Up? Down? Has having more distribution points (bars) meant an increase in sales or are the sales just being spread out over more places?

And then, as I said before, there are the social issues.

Are more people spending more time in bars? If so, what does that do to the community and families?

1 comment:

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