Should a Beat Journalist be a Layman?

Keeping TIFs from a public tiff by Wichita Eagle business reporter Bill Wilson on the Eagle’s Business Casual blog contains some comments that are troubling to me.

In these comments, reporter Wilson wrote this: “Instead, a TIF, to this layman, actually is a government bet on the success of a development.” (emphasis added)

Now I believe that Mr. Wilson may be wrong in his understanding of the mechanism behind tax increment financing (TIF) districts. I certainly don’t agree with his assessment of their public policy impact when he says “TIFs are miscast as a government giveaway.”

When our city stakes the success of its downtown development efforts on TIF districts and other economic development incentives, is it asking too much for journalists to acquaint themselves with matters like TIF districts to the point where they are no longer laymen?

It is not complicated. These articles may be of interest: Tiff over Wichita TIFs, Wichita City Council’s Misunderstanding of Tax Increment Financing, Tax Abatements in Wichita, and Tax Increment Financing in Wichita Benefits Few.

1 Comment

  • Bill Wilson has been around long enough to know better, but he is not willing to “buck” the power elite and the advertisers in the Wichita Eagle.

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