Story Behind The Story

Strickland Asks State Officials For Plans If Hit With 10 Percent Cut

Today, I’m trying to write this blog without thinking of the fact that my lawnmower this morning sputtered like a 1905 Curved Dash Oldsmobile. (It didn’t sound good.) Though I was able to mow my entire lawn, it was about 30 minutes of pure embarrassment. (I could just hear all my male neighbors telling their wives, ‘Woah, that mower doesn’t sound right.’  I have a feeling I’ll be making some trips to the local hardware store this weekend. (Wish me luck.)

But moving on…

The workday started out like any other. When the clock struck 2:30 pm, we headed in for our afternoon editorial meeting. I pitched an idea that was approved by management and that was that. (But, as Lee Corso says on College Gameday) “Not so fast my friends!”  See, some news came down from the Associated Press that Governor Strickland had asked all the state agency heads to tell him how they would be impacted by a ten percent cut. He also asked them how they would be impacted by no cut at all.

Of course, this caught our attention. Though a spokesperson for the governors office had said in the report this is a traditional first step in the budget process and that this was not an indication of what has or what will be decided, anything to do with cuts (or anything that addresses possible cuts) in the state of Ohio is news.  (Especially after the cuts that have been made over the past few years.) Any reporter will tell you they’ve done their fair share covering those stories.

That goes to show that being in this business, you need to be able to switch directions and ‘go with the flow’ at a moment’s notice. 

At this point, it was around 3pm. As we all know, many organizations or agencies that are government funded usually start closing up shop around 5pm.  Fortunately, I was able to contact The Columbus Speech & Hearing Center.  They receive 20 percent of their funding from the state. (The perfect agency to include in our story.) They (like so many other agencies and departments) have been hit hard by cuts over the last few years. For example, in 2007, they received $1.4 million from the state in funding. Currently, they receive $900,000 in funding.  (You get the point.)

Mark (my photographer) and I headed over to the agency to interview the CEO about what impact additional cuts could have on them. We also asked her what it would mean if funding stayed the same. (Basically, more cuts would mean more jobs would be lost.)

Following that interview, we wanted to get the perspective from someone who takes advantage of those services that could be impacted by further cuts. It didn’t take long before we found a woman at the center who has been going there for the past six years with her son. (Again, she was the perfect person to include in our story.) Fortunately, she agreed to do an interview with us.  After a couple minutes, I could tell (and hear) her 14 month old daughter was beginning to get agitated, which was a clear indication to me to end the interview.

Following that, we got a little more video then headed down to the statehouse (to get yet more video.) On the way, I called the Governor’s office to see if Governor Strickland had any time at all for an on-camera interview (he didn’t.) Regardless, that call also gave me the opportunity to ask follow-up and clarifying questions in regards to the issue. After I hit the ‘end’ button on my phone, I had everything I needed to write an accurate and balanced story.

Now about that mower….

Posted by Tom Brockman  on 07/15 at 07:04 PM

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