A few weeks ago TripAdvisor released its top 10 list of the nation’s dirtiest hotels, based on travelers’ reviews. And then, not much.
There were a flurry of stories in the New York press about the hotels in that area. USA Today took note and even sent a reporter to stay at the Hotel Carter in New York, which topped the list for the third year in a row.
And then yesterday, something interesting happened. The Bangor Daily News in Maine published a story about the Travelodge Bangor, which placed seventh on the list.
Reporter Eric Russell noted that the corporate owner for all Travelodge hotels is Wyndham Worldwide, which also owns the Days Inn chain, which had three other hotels on the list. And he called Wyndham to ask about that.
I can’t find any evidence that any other local newspaper or TV station outside New York picked up on the dirty hotels in their cities, let alone made that corporate connection. And I’m not surprised.
As newspapers twist in the economic winds and cut their staffs, we will see less strong local reporting like this. And make no mistake — newspapers have always been the foundation of local reporting, with TV, radio and, yes, bloggers, following their leads.
If you think bloggers are going to fill that void, look again at the blogs you’re counting on to do it. Look at this one. I aggregate. I analyze. I comment. I hope I inform and entertain. But I don’t do much reporting because blogging is not my paid, full-time job.
Don’t get me wrong — bloggers have frequently corrected, supplemented and informed the mainstream media. The TripAdvisor site, as good an example of crowd-sourcing as you’re going to find, created the impetus for the Bangor story.
But this case demonstrates why we need professional, paid reporters to put the facts in context and ask for explanations. Lose strong reporting at the local level and you’ll never find out much about the dirty hotels, dirty restaurants and corrupt officials where you live.