Three local business stories the week of Oct. 20 were quickly followed by efforts to correct problems the stories identified.
The first effort was the end of a no-bid contract awarded by the director of Idaho’s new health insurance exchange to a board member, Frank Chan. The contract was worth up to $375,000 at $180 an hour. The AP’s John Miller asked key legislators about it and elicited criticism of the deal. Chan then canceled the contract, and the board curbed the director’s authority.
The second is a 6- to 8-cent drop in the price of a gallon of gasoline on Oct. 25 — the day a story by the Statesman’s Kristin Rodine reported that Idaho gas prices had exceeded the national average since May.
The third is Gardner Co.’s decision to alter the spire atop its unfinished 8th and Main building. Some people said the spire reminded them of a Mormon church. After Statesman reporter Sven Berg’s Oct. 23 story and a story the next day on KTVB, Gardner said the spire would get a new surface.
Can journalists’ work be credited or blamed for prompting changes like these? I think so, but I can’t always prove it. John Jackson, whose Jackson’s stores sell more gas in the Valley than anyone else, said a competitor’s price cut led Jackson’s to lower prices. Gardner said complaints cited in the news reports prompted the spire change.
I think stories like these matter. We’ll do our best to keep after them.