Texas Public Radio

  • Nursing home safety: An interview on Texas Public Radio

    Nursing Home Front PageWe sat down with Terry Gildea of Texas Public Radio for this week’s episode of The Source, Terry’s show about journalists who cover complicated issues in San Antonio.

    Terry is an oddity in the soundbite-world of broadcast media — he’s a radio reporter who values in-depth reporting. So we had an interesting talk about the weeks or months of legwork it can take to write an investigative story. Terry talked to Karisa King, Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje and me about nursing homes in San Antonio that provide poor care with little state oversight.

    It took about three months of work to write this story. We read 3,000 pages of regulatory reports, stacks of lawsuits, and interviewed dozens of people.

    You might ask, why bother doing all this work? The alternative is shallow journalism — make a few phone calls, interview some talking heads, and slap together a shoddy story. That’s the last thing we need in an age of shrinking newsrooms and a skeptical readership.

    Terry understands that. And he’s giving journalists a forum to explain how exactly they do their jobs. Tune in on Mondays at 12:30 p.m. if you’re interested in hearing the story behind a good story. You can listen to past shows here.

  • Texas Public Radio: How the San Antonio Express-News dealt with cutbacks

    Six months after the San Antonio Express-News cut a third of its newsroom, Texas Public Radio interviewed journalists at the newspaper — including yours truly — to measure the impact of the cutbacks.

    Terry GildeaTerry Gildea’s story was featured today on the radio program Texas Matters. Terry interviewed a broad spectrum of the newsroom: Top editor Bob Rivard; City Hall Reporter Tracy Idell Hamilton; Metro Columnist Scott Stroud; and Scott’s wife, Martha, a page designer who lost her job at the paper.

    You can listen to the entire radio program here.

    We lost a lot of good, talented people in the newsroom and the newspaper had some tough choices to make. Terry interviewed me about Bob’s decision to keep the paper’s special projects team intact. The team doesn’t usually handle daily assignments — we spend weeks or months digging into each investigative story.

    The day in late February when the lay offs were announced, I was driving around helping reporter Karisa King work on a story about Raquel Padilla, a mental patient who was dropped off at a downtown Greyhound bus station, given a bus ticket home, and left to fend for herself.

    Three days later, Padilla was found dead, lying in the shallow water of a concrete ditch.

    When the story was published, readers were outraged by Padilla’s death. State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, wrote a bill that attempts to prevent future tragedies. That bill quickly became a Texas law.

    “That’s a good thing,” I told Terry. “Good things happen when you give reporters time and resources to dig into stuff.”

    Although this next part didn’t make it on the air, I also told him newspapers don’t have a monopoly on enterprise stories. Terry is living proof of that. He’s reported long stories on the radio, such as these heartrending features on a nurse and soldier in the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center.

    But daily newspapers have traditionally invested the most time, energy and money into investigations that hold people accountable. That’s why lay offs at a newspaper are a big deal.

    (Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/seanmcgee)