Does anyone out there read the budget stories? This is a question that I’ve often asked myself over the years while covering budget meetings, whether it involved a school district, city council or some other governmental entity.
These days, we get digital feedback on who’s reading what when it goes online. Budget stories traditionally don’t do very well. They’re often filled with hard-to-understand numbers and involve things that the general public just doesn’t seem to spend a whole lot of time thinking about over the course of the year.
Yes, I’ll say it, they can be a little boring. (Perhaps that’s why there were only four people in the audience at Wednesday’s budget committee meeting). Maybe I need to find a way to make the stories more interesting. But there’s only so much you can do. I basically just try to write an accurate story that covers the issues that had been discussed and provide a few highlights out of all of the numbers.
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Despite all of that, I realize they are important public processes. This year, I decided to cover both the school district and city budget committee meetings. In the past, I had waited for the school board and city council to vote on their respective budgets and I would report the news at that time. I figured those who truly had an interest in the nuts and bolts of the budget would look them up online.
But this year, I added committee meetings to my schedule thinking that perhaps there actually is an issue that attracts interest among those who do read the budget stories. In all honesty, if you really are interested, don’t just rely on what I’m writing. Take the extra step and look up the budgets on the organization’s respective websites. Both the school district and city post their budgets online.