Monday, March 14, 2011

Should Journalists Root for the Home Team?

A FEW WEEKS AGO, Inquirer editorial page editor (and TU adjunct) Paul Davies wrote a column about the opening of the massive expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

"Would you invest $786 million in a business that lost millions every year, charged more than most of its competitors, and left many customers angry and unwilling to return?" Davies asked. "Well, you just did."

He wrote that the center is full of cronyism, inside politics and union mismanagement and it is hurting the city and state (since the money to build and expand the place came from public funds).

Today, the chairman of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau has a letter to the editor in the Inquirer:

"Unfortunately, as a result of that column, a major convention customer whose business is worth $54 million in spending for the city is now questioning our ability as a convention destination," Nick DeBenedictis wrote.

He argued that the negativism of the Inquirer and Davies will cost the center (and therefore city and state) millions of dollars.

He concluded by writing, "We should all be rooting for the home team, and encouraging customers to choose Philadelphia."

Was Davies wrong to be critical of the Convention Center expansion? Should he have championed the larger facility?

Can a journalist be a watchdog for the public and a civic booster at the same time?

(the image above is from the Flower Show at the Convention Center)


Alysse Pujol said...

I believe that the journalist could have somewhat pushed both sides because readers should know to be on there toes but there should be an optimistic side where there are hopes for the Convention to be better, not necessarily because it is bigger but because the members of the bureau have realized past mistakes and have planned to change the insides of the business the same way they have changed the physical part of it. It is shown in this article that because the journalist did not add any sort of an optimistic view, it has cost this Philadelphia business money. He is speaking of the way it has cost us the dollars we put in for public funding but almost in all reality he has just helped the citizens and government lose this money by bad talking something that is part of our incoming money and part of our culture. I agree with DeBenedictis when he says that he should be "rooting for the home team." This doesn't necessarily mean he has to fully back up the business but a least include an optimistic light to the future.

amaris talbert said...

I think that rooting for the home team is not an unjust action of journalists. To me, journalism is not only about spreading news, but also about connecting to people and sharing news with them that is relevant and interesting to their lives. I agree that journalists should not lie or only provide good information about their home team, but I think that there is no harm in journalists rooting for the team that their readers relate to. Journalists who take a view point on the teams they like become more relate-able to the audience and write more enthusiastic articles for the readers to relate to. By actually caring about the teams, they invest themselves in the topic.

Anonymous said...

i love your hair george miller

Geo said...

Isn't being critical of government spending on behalf of the citizens actually rooting for the home team?

By demanding proper behavior from elected officials, isn't the journalist championing the city/ region?

Just a thought.

- George
(the teacher who appreciates the hair comment but doesn't think it adds much to this debate)