It’s already nearly impossible to escape the daily drumbeat of news about the upcoming U.S. Open. Expect the pace to only increase between now and June 15, when practice rounds begin at Chambers Bay.
We’ve been gradually ramping up golf coverage since 2008, when we learned the championship was coming. We named Todd Milles our golf beat writer, with much of his work focused on our budding local course. We began sending him to the U.S. Open and other major golf tournaments. That coverage helped us get acquainted with the personalities involved and learn what to expect during championship week.
We’re already planning a U.S. Open kick-off section for June 13, with daily special sections following every day of the tournament.
As the host news organization, we won’t limit our reporting to sports coverage of what happens (pardon the golf parlance) “inside the ropes.” The TNT also must cover the local news side of this enormous event.
We must educate area residents of the likely effects on traffic. We need to explain to taxpayers the costs of providing security, but also the possible benefits to the local economy. We want to guide out-of-town visitors who may turn to us for recommendations on where to go out for dinner after a day at the course.
The United States Golf Association believes this new U.S. Open venue will attract more first-time attendees than ever, so we’re also putting together a guide for what you can and cannot bring to the course, the best ways to view the action and where to park.
These stories will run in the paper over the next two months, but we’re also saving them all on a Web page that went live last week. It’s at thenewstribune.com/chambers-bay.
Alongside the stories, you’ll find all the “U.S. Open countdown” historical pieces running each day in the Sports section and a list of players already qualified to play in June.
We also built a cool, interactive map of the course. You click on a hole, and Chambers Bay pro Brent Zepp breaks down the pivotal shot. On 14, for instance, Zepp advises: “Just a majestic tee shot. You are going to have to hit it hard to get it to the fairway.”
My favorite part is a list of frequently asked questions.
So what is fine fescue grass? What day will the Grandview Trail close? What kind of U.S. Open souvenirs can I buy? The answers are in the FAQ. And you can leave a new question for us to answer.
Not every reader is keenly interested in golf, but this event will be all-consuming in our community for a few weeks in June. We’re seeing great interest in our coverage, both on the golf and news sides. Let us know if you have story ideas.
“DELETED FOREVER” FOLLOW-UP
Sean Robinson’s front-page story last Sunday, “Deleted forever,” exposed a major gap in public records retention and already is prompting action by government agencies.
The story found that text messages are disappearing from more than 88,000 mobile phones owned by 700 government agencies throughout the state, from the smallest cities to the highest levels of state government.
Text messages are the latest incarnation of electronic communication, widely used in public and private settings. But if they’re created on phones owned by taxpayers, they’re public records, just like emails on government computer systems.
Robinson shared this update:
“After learning of the text retention issue from The News Tribune, state archivist Steve Excell, tasked with maintaining state records and providing relevant guidance to state agencies, created new advice sheets on text message retention that spelled out the duty of agencies at all levels. Excell’s advice was explicit: “Text messages about the work of the agency are public records.” He also noted that text messages on privately owned devices that discuss the work of government are also public records — an issue that continues to wind through our state appeals courts.
“In Pierce County, we also saw a swift reaction. On April 13, the day after our report appeared, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy underlined in an email to county staff the idea that text messages are public records. The county is exploring methods to ensure preservation of text messages as a result of our coverage.”
NEW PAGE FOR LOTTERY NUMBERS
Beginning in Tuesday’s paper, you’ll find daily lottery numbers in a new place. Rather than appearing on A2, they will appear on the bottom right-hand corner of the Scoreboard page near the back of the Sports section.
Deadline changes are prompting us to send A2 to the pressroom earlier in the evening, before the lottery numbers are available. The Scoreboard page is among the last we produce, so our sports editors will gather and place the lottery numbers in this space every day.