Rob Burgess

This is something that is difficult for many journalists to admit, but I feel it's important I be straight with you, my readers: I am a human being with emotions, subjective experience, and judgement. There's no sense in pretending otherwise. Even if I write a story and do my best to present as many valid points of view in as neutral and fact-based a fashion as possible, the simple fact of which subjects I do decide are worthy of coverage is itself a bias. I'm not a robot.

This is why I need your help. Sure, I could present a list of topics I'm looking to cover in 2019 with no help. I think I'm pretty in tune with what the major news themes of the year will be. But, I have blind spots. We all do. So, please, tell me what you think is important.

I've listed the five main areas of interest I'm looking to tackle this year, but I realize this is inherently incomplete. I've also left the categories as broad and vague as possible, as these issues necessarily bleed into one another.

GOVERNMENT/POLITICS

After last year's bruising midterm elections, the 2019 Indiana Legislative Sessions is now firing on all cylinders. Through March, I’ll devote a lot of time to the new legislation begin introduced and the progress of things that seem to come up year after year like hate crimes legislation and the legalization of cannabis, medical or otherwise. What questions to you have about specific bills or issues that you’d like me to cover?

Added to that, 2019 will be buzzing with activity as several local seats in Marion County will be up for election, including mayor and city-county council. The municipal primary election is scheduled for May 7, and the general election will be Nov. 5. We’ll be taking a close look at the candidates, and the jobs they are seeking within our city-county government, so readers can make the most informed choices at the polls. What do you want to know about the elections? What questions do you have for candidates?

Our leaders have their own ideas about is important, of course. But, what is on your radar?

HEALTH

The opioid epidemic has ravaged so many areas of this country over the past few years, and Indiana is among the hardest hit.

We have a higher number of babies’ umbilical cords testing positive for opiates than the national average.

Fentanyl-related overdoses in Marion County have risen dramatically in recent years, with Black residents being particularly at risk.

The environment around us is in peril, as well. Indiana is currently number 34 on the list of states for drinking water quality and 48 for pollution health risks.

What other health and environmental stories should I be covering this year?

HOMELESSNESS

Anyone who has visited downtown lately knows Indianapolis has a serious homelessness problem. Counts taken each January show the numbers of those experiencing homelessness are higher than they have been in years.

This is one of those topics that bleeds into every other issue I've listed. (It's a problem for politicians, children experiencing homelessness continues to be a problem, many living outdoors have health problems, and many have contact with the criminal justice system.)

What causes and solutions aren't being discussed enough?

CHILDREN

The Indiana Department of Child Services is in disarray. The most recent ISTEP scores show we are failing our students. Our teachers make less here than almost every other state. And, that's before we've even begin discussing charter schools or the current state of Indianapolis Public Schools. What else are we missing?

In recent years, we haven’t had the resources to devote as much attention as we would have liked to education issues, but that will change in 2019.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

In July 2018, the city broke ground on a new criminal justice center, with a greater focus on mental health services. Meanwhile, Indianapolis set a record for homicides for the fourth year in a row. And, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department continues to implement reforms to tackle issues such as implicit bias.

Of course, this is a woefully incomplete list. Tell me what I've left out.

The bottom line is that I’m looking to you, our readers, to tell me what issues you think should be a priority; what questions do you want answered, what stories should we tell?

You should see a question box on this page titled City Committee with a place for you to submit your questions and thoughts. If you have ad blocker or it doesn’t appear, you can go directly to the City Committee landing page to leave a suggestion or question; leave a comment below; or send me an email.

Let me know your thoughts.

 

Rob Burgess, News Editor at NUVO, can be reached by email at rburgess@nuvo.net, by phone at 317-808-4614 or on Twitter @robaburg.

News Editor

My background is that I'm the fourth generation in my family to work as a journalist. I also have a degree from Indiana University in Elementary Education. My wife, Ash, and I have two children, Harper, 4, and Emerald, 1.

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