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Controversial mascot OK for U.Illinois homecoming

In developments relating to a longstanding battle between American Indian activists and University of Illinois officials, a tentative standard has been set for the display of the school's controversial mascot, Chief Illiniwek. The Pioneer Press ran an Associated Press report on the situation, in which school officials overturned a ban on the mascot, thereby allowing his picture to be prominently shown on floats in the homecoming parade Friday. Similarly, the News-Gazette, publication of the Champagne, Ill., area, covered the story but in greater depth. The AP story was picked up by outlets across the world (as far away as the United Kingdom), showing this story is of interest and worth to many. But the fact that the local story is able to go in much greater depth is a testament to beat reporting. Because the News-Gazette reporter has likely been covering the scandal for a lengthy period of time, and has had ample opportunity to assert herself, she is likely a more familiar face than an AP reporter who swoops in when scandal strikes. Due to this familiarity and already-established rapport with sources, the News-Gazette is able to get a more thorough and interesting story that answers more questions than does the AP piece. And so it should be -- the general audience of the News-Gazette is likely far more invested in the story than the AP audience in London.