Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Story time

For at least a couple of years, rumors have been flying about the impending sale of Williams Lake Resort. Lots of people have been talking about it, including many who asked me why there hadn't been anything in the paper. I'd check with editors or reporters and learn they'd heard the same rumors, but couldn't get confirmation.

Finally, today we have a story. The deal is all but done. Friday is D-Day.

The other day Williams Lake hosted a farewell party for longtime friends. In short, everybody who cares about Williams Lake -- and plenty of people who don't -- know it's being sold. That's why the following paragraph from today's story jumped out at me: "Neither the present owner ... or the prospective buyer ... would give particulars on the project, other than to say negotiations have not been completed."

I understand business and the need for confidentiality, particularly when all the T's haven't been crossed. Heck, I'm involved in one such top secret project right now (not involving my newspaper, it's important I emphasize). But the project with which I'm involved is increasingly less top secret as more local people join what was originally a coordinating group of about a dozen. I'm hearing bits and pieces of what is supposed to be confidential on the street. So are a couple of our editors to whom I can say nothing, which is an uncomfortable position for me to be in.

My point is that with the aforementioned project and the sale of Williams Lake, a lot of people know about it, but there's precious little a newspaper can do if the primary sources clam up and the peripheral sources don't have enough for us to produce an accurate and complete story.

Here's a common question asked of a newspaper in a relatively small community: "How come you guys had anything on this?" The Williams Lake story is a good example.
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