The following editorial was published in the Quad-City Times on July 14:
In just the past few weeks, the Times and our sister paper the Dispatch-Argus have shown that a Rock Island alderman was using taxpayer money on personal expenses; in one case, the alderman used public money to buy custom cuff links and a bullet-proof vest. The city is now reworking its policy for aldermen’s expenses and seeking to recoup some of the misspent money.
We triggered resignations in the Rock Island County health department after the agency botched the handling of tuberculosis tests for recent immigrants.
We revealed the true depths of Western Illinois University’s enrollment problems at its Quad-Cities campus and showed that administrators lacked an adequate recruitment plan. The university’s president resigned not long after in response to myriad problems at WIU.
We’ve fought court battles, and won, most recently when a judge tried to block the public from the trial of a boy accused of trying to shoot his teacher in a North Scott classroom.
Our reporting in your kids’ schools has uncovered secret discussions on the Bettendorf school board about selling a school building and considerations to mislead the public. We’ve revealed other serious problems in the Davenport school district, too, where black students are disciplined at rates much higher than whites and administrators botched dozens of education plans for special-needs kids, forcing the state to intervene.
We’ve unearthed turmoil on Davenport’s civil rights commission, the board tasked with ensuring our community’s most vulnerable classes have an equal right to liberty.
We doggedly report on youth crime, digging deep into data to show trends, possible causes and, more importantly, potential solutions.
We shared concerns and raised a few of our own about how Davenport responds to flooding. A mayor’s task force formed last week is now revisiting the city’s policies.
Journalism isn’t cheap. In most of those stories, we paid expensive fees to obtain public documents. We sometimes seek the advice of lawyers to ensure we’re being fair and lawful when we exercise our First Amendment rights. And in many of those stories above, reporters worked for weeks, sometimes months, gathering the facts — chasing down leads, one source, one document at a time — to bring you the news, because we insist on doing things the right way, regardless of cost.
Still, it’s no secret revenue has fallen at most papers since the industry’s golden age. When big box stores close, they no longer advertise in the local paper. Much of the industry’s classified revenue has also dwindled with the rise of online marketplaces. Loyal and longtime readers continue to take a daily paper at home under the industry’s traditional business model, but a growing number prefer to read our news digitally.