Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel
Title of Entry:
Backwoods Casino Busted
33 - Star Investigative Report of the Year
This report reflects curiosity, resourcefulness and good old-fashioned gumption. For that alone, it should claim this award, if for no other reason than by doing so we fan the flame of those attributes in hopes that they spread further across an industry that at times seems to have forgotten them.
This series likely piqued the interest of law enforcement in neighboring jurisdictions and sparked attention in the statehouse.
Curiosity was expressed by checking out the tip to begin with, and doing so in a timely manner. And given the circumstances, that took a little gumption. Resourcefulness played out by this report’s authors availing themselves of more than the printed word. The first-day photos alone tell a story. And then we take readers there with online video made available only by having the inside track.
That said, this series raises a serious question, most notably the fact that the reporter broke the law. The 41 people who were issued a summons are evidence that merely sitting in the establishment crosses the line. So the reporter – who also put money in a machine presumably to blend in and not draw undue attention - likely would have been counted among those cited had the place been raided while the reporter, unknown to authorities, was scoping out the place.
The question is whether it was worth the risk, to himself, his reputation and the credibility of his publication and the industry as a whole. For that credibility is all that sets us apart from other media. And it’s being eroded daily by any typos we make and any inaccuracies we print.
Worth the risk? That is open for a debate that likely will result in some simply agreeing to disagree. Nonetheless, this piece is chosen because of the this reporter’s willingness to leave the newsroom, chase the tip and take that risk.
And there are others out there. So perhaps we as an industry one day will regain that gumption. Let’s just be sure to consider our credibility each time we entertain that risk.