In Mid-May last year Channel 4’s Susanne Shaw began a series of thoughtful, well-sourced stories asking whether new pressures on parents and new parenting styles are leading to a generation of spoiled children and self-centered adults. Smart people on both sides of the issue spoke in the series “Who’s in Charge?”
This was journalism that seeks answers to the community’s questions--the real purpose of news. Unfortunately, this kind of reporting--as opposed to sitting in the newsroom listening to a scanner radio for emergencies or attending press conferences and pseudo events staged for reporters--is very rare in Bay Area television. Fortunately, it’s an area in which the Chronicle, Mercury News and Contra Costa Times excel.
An enterprise story differs from spot news in time and focus. It may begin with a recent event--although not usually something that happened that day--but the view is more informational and broader. It generally answers a question the public may have about some issue or event. Enterprise stories are originated by journalists to explain or contextualize important happenings or issues.
Investigative stories are enterprise stories that focus on mis- or malfeasance usually by government, but sometimes also by private industry or others. The investigation is conducted by the journalist, not law enforcement authorities.
The enterprise index measures the proportion of news time or space allocated to this active approach to news-gathering.
This measures the proactivity of the newsroom, its willingness to seek our answers to the public’s questions rather than simply react to events or other’s agendas. The most demanding of such stories on newsroom resources is the investigative story. Because they are more demanding, time/space spent on investigative reports is weighted by a factor of 4. In other words, a 3-minute investigative story is treated as if it lasted 12 minutes.
Even a news department well funded enough to develop enterprise stories frequently will still want to cover the breaking news of the day. For that reason, enterprise rarely constitutes as much as half of the top stories of the day. The grading standard allows plenty of room for breaking news, while rewarding the big picture reporting that journalists originate to tie events into comprehensible patterns.
Grading follows the same standard as the Civic Contribution Index: 40% or more=A; 37-39=A-; 34-36=B+; 31-33=B; 28-30=B-; 25-27=C+; 22-24=C; 19-21=C-; 16-18=D+; 13-15=D; 10-12=D-; <10=F.