MADISON, Wis.— Journalists are making headlines this week due to a Pew report confirming that the nation’s statehouses are now missing one-third of their typical full-time journalists. The study, which surveyed all 50 statehouses, revealed that the number of full-time journalists covering legislative issues has dropped from 464 in 2008 to 300 today.
While the reason for the disappearance of the statehouse reporters has yet to be confirmed, many are criticizing the White House for actively trying to impede journalists from investigating stories. Many think that statehouses are taking their cue from Obama and playing the “old keep-away-the-journalists-from-facts game.”
“I was told to meet at room 323 at the statehouse for an environmental meeting,”said Louis Cartwright, a political correspondent for Talk of The Town, a newspaper in Dreary, Idaho. “When I got there, the room was dark and I tripped on some wire. The next thing you know I’m stuck on some fly-paper and never got to the meeting.”
When reached for comment, the Idaho statehouse did not respond to calls. And this reporter was too weary to go down there herself to ask.
Other reporters have voiced similar concerns about the subtle feeling of danger in the air as they collect information for stories.
“I just have the education beat,” said Marla Uphill, of the Providence Journal. “I’m not in some war zone in Sudan. I want to report on school budgets. Yet there’s not a day that goes by we don’t see a journalist’s face on a milk carton.”
Some have offered alternative theories on the sudden dearth of reporters in state legislature buildings.
“The stuff that goes on in there is just so dang boring,”said Edna Lithbaum, 72, a secretary for the Ohio statehouse. “Blah, blah, blah, healthcare, blah, blah, immigrants, blah, blah. I would leave too, if I didn’t hate sitting at home with my husband.”
As the number of local politics beat reporters wane, the Kim Kardashian and puppies-wearing-sweaters section of the newspapers are on the rise. Not to worry about the lack of daily legislature information, though—state officials are on it.
The Pew Research Journalism Project reported that state officials have nobly stepped up to the plate in terms of getting the facts out there.
Many have started contributing their own takes on the goings-on in daily state legislature by providing their own news feeds for television, or the Internet. State officials have assured the public that news reported about the state, by the state are in no way biased.