The front page of Monday’s Greenville Daily News is two-thirds occupied by a story about the dire situation of the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries in Michigan.
This comes on a news day when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a landmark health care reform bill, local towns battled over Google Fiber and the Michigan State University men’s basketball team won an NCAA Tournament game on a last-second shot.
Needless to say, this is a pretty big deal.
The story, written by Daily News staff writer Jessica Dudenhofer, focuses on Edmore Thoroughbred breeder Rick McCune, who has been hit hard by the decline of racing in the state.
Dudenhofer examines the negative repercussions of Proposal 04-1 and the effects the industry’s downturn has had on the state’s five racetracks. The story continues by looking at the number of jobs affected by the racing industry, both on and off the racetrack, and the puzzling lack of interest Gov. Jennifer Granholm seems to have in preserving them. The article wraps up with a discussion about the massive state cuts in funding to horse racing programs. Line items appropriated by the Ag Equine Development fund are generated by the racing industry itself through a tax on simulcast handle.
Others interviewed for the story include Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Patti Dickinson, spokesperson for Gov. Granholm, Liz Boyd, and State Representative Mike Huckleberry.
Also, be sure to check out the video that accompanies the piece. I make a brief cameo near the end holding one of McCune’s stallions, Research.
As is the case most times I come across a feature on a Michigan horseperson, I will take this opportunity to stress the importance of outreach to the media and others who can be of assistance.
This story happened because the reporter overheard McCune discussing his situation at a legislative luncheon at Montcalm Community College earlier this month. She contacted McCune shortly after the meeting and set up the first of two interviews at his farm.
The end result was a front-page, screaming-headline explanation of the state of Michigan’s racing industry that can’t be missed by anyone reading the paper, or even walking by it. The story’s online presence will only help spread its message to an even bigger audience. All it cost McCune was some time at the kitchen table to talk shop and an extra trip to the barn to show off his horses.
It is an important time to ensure the public is informed about horse racing. There could be up to three casino proposals on November’s ballot, and it is critical that the public knows the benefits a healthy racing industry could have for the state if the right initiative is passed. The passage of Proposal 1 in 2004 is a prime example of how public misinformation can swing an election. One of the easiest, and cheapest, ways to reach lots of people and at least have the information out there is the mass media.
As always, I would be happy to assist interested parties in the process of contacting, interviewing or otherwise dealing with local media. Some time ago, I posted some contact information to various local news outlets. The link to that post can be found here. The list may have a few changes since it was first posted, but this a good place to start.