Former UA Student Breaks Madison County Trust Fund Vote Story

How gratifying to see a former student of mine, Amethyst Holmes, reporting the big news for Huntsville– that voters there in Madison County turned down today’s referendum to spend money from the Alabama trust fund to cover general fund expenditures.

Now, Holmes’ story provided no local reaction comments (interviews or statements from local elected officials), but it took a more nuanced approach to reporting the results of the election.

It showed why it was important to let one’s audience know how the “home crowd” felt about an issue on the ballot.

Minutes after Holmes’ report posted on al.com,Huntsville’s perennial TV market news leader WAFF 48 anchors Kim Essex and Mark Thornhill began their newscast with breaking news on a shooting followed by a live update from Charles Molineaux, formerly of CNN,  on the statewide outcome.

Molineaux never mentioned the finer point of the local vote in WAFF’s own backyard– the fact that a sizeable number of local voters in Huntsville said “NO” to a referendum.

Wasn’t that relevant to the story being told in Huntsville?

By 10:08, Max Reiss, who told the story of the vote and its impact, provided his analysis and explanation of “what it means” to the viewing watching Huntsville NBC affiliate.

“This is a fascinating night for Alabama politics,” Reiss told the WAFF audience.

But, the LOCAL ANGLE is what we depend on local reporters to provide. Otherwise, we could depend on The Associated Press to do our journalism for us.

Holmes graduated from the University of Alabama just this past spring.  She interned at The Huntsville Times last summer.

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Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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