Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lowes to Locate in Kings Country - Anatomy of a Story

The CenlaMedia site is, in part, created to reveal how we approach reporting on stories at KALB-TV. It allows you to see the rationale and then the careful steps taken to be accurate.

A good recent case to examine is the story of Lowes possibly locating in Pineville. This could be one of the worst kept secrets in local real estate history (the Walmart on Hwy 28 West is another example) but it allows us to show you how the decisions are made to report on non-confirmed business news.

Several months ago Joel Massey a reporter with KALB-TV began tracking down a story about Lowes locating in the old Walmart in Pineville handled by Stirling Properties. We called the Pineville city administration and were told they could not confirm nor deny the deal. We approached members of a local church said to be involved in the deal and continued to pursue the people involved from Lowes to the property owner. Everything came up empty. We passed on reporting on the story and then woke up to read a Town Talk article attributed to sources on the development.

KALB-TV does not report from the paper and was unable to independently confirm the story.

Now skip to this week several months later. While reporting on the IP story we obtained an interesting comment from the Mayor of Pineville. He said a big retailer was in town to discuss the development but could not confirm who it was. This time we went with it after being able to independently confirm through two other sources that Lowes was in town talking about details.

The next day we get this email:
"You ran a story last night and also on your website saying that speculation is that there will be an announcement from Lowes this week. You also say that the supposed site would be Kings Country. I can confirm that it is that location, as they have already signed deals to purchase the Northside Baptist Church property, as well as the 5 lots/homes northeast of the church. The store will go in at the old WalMart end of the shopping center."

The email continues with personal information not proper for this forum but it ends with...

"They have known about this since January, so you guys are a little behind the curve."

After a response and an email request for an interview we received the following email...

"I doubt very seriously that they would be willing to go on camera. Their agreement doesn't preclude them from saying they have a deal, but it does preclude them from saying what the deal is. If the "rumor" is King'sCountry, then a little legwork (other than talking to the mayor) would have let you break the news (as there are a lot of church members at Northside that know about it, etc.). It will be big for the area, but unfortunately will hurt a church that has been there for decades as well as households/families who have been there for decades. The biggest thing though is traffic. Military Highway is already turning into a very busy area, especially there in Kingsville. This will only compound the problem. One of your questions for the Mayor should be when is the city going to annex that area (it's currently not annexed) and how are traffic concerns going to be addressed. Those issues are HUGE! Glad to see the area being revitalized after the Wal-Mart move and other closed stores becoming an eyesore in King's Country."

Now we wait for the the news to come "officially" from either Lowes or Northside.
Here is the online listing.

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