One local story this week was an example of good reporting but not necessarily of good citizenship.
A reporter for the Daily Record managed to uncover the names of companies trying to make a deal with the city for incentives.
While it shows a commendable ability to crack through Curry’s Wall of secrecy, what else does it accomplish?
The city has a policy of keeping secret the names of companies seeking incentives to do business in Jacksonville until a deal is made.
The stated reason is that the companies prefer not to let the competition know what they are doing.
Presumably, a business that does not want its name revealed would pass on moving to Jacksonville.
Jacksonville needs growth, new jobs and wealth. The companies named by The Record proposed putting $200 million in new capital into the city, the paper said.
The media probably would default to the old saw — that the public has “a right to know.”
But what is gained?
If a company doesn’t make a deal, it isn’t coming and its name is moot.
If it does make a deal, the deal and its terms will be revealed and debated before it takes place.
There are plenty of arguments pro and con for offering tax incentives.
But arguments for naming the companies in the early stages are not persuasive.
Early announcement of the names of companies serves no public purpose.
What would benefit readers and taxpayers is to foil more often the local government’s attempts to limit public access to public records. It has gotten out of hand and the local media have been too complacent about the situation.