The real problem at the Statehouse bureaus
Wednesday, Jan 11, 2017
* We talked again last week about the exodus of Statehouse reporters, which is now up to seven over the past couple of months. I received a few e-mails on this topic from a current and a former reporter that I thought I’d share with you.
This is from a current Statehouse reporter, with a slight edit to disguise the person’s identity…
That last sentence and the fact that Ivan Moreno at the AP may not be replaced are the most important parts as you’ll see in this next e-mail from a former reporter…
* That former reporter continued in a follow-up e-mail, which has also been slightly edited…
Despite the fact that the Daily Herald bought a ton of newspapers in southern Illinois, it appears it won’t keep its Statehouse bureau open. And while Lee Newspapers still has a presence, the papers it serves have far fewer reporters. The Post-Dispatch, another Lee paper, also lost its bureau chief a while back.
So, fewer reporters at Lee, the AP and possibly at Illinois Public Radio, while the Daily Herald has gone to zero. We’ll see what happens at WICS and WCIA. The Illinois Radio Network was bought by the Illinois Policy Institute, and it can’t get accredited to cover the House and Senate. The Tribune used to have two full-time folks in Springfield, now it has one. The Sun-Times has a Statehouse reporter, and while she does a very good job, she lives in Chicago.
* I pulled up the 1991-92 Blue Book and checked the section for the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association. We had 47 members back then. It’s a tiny fraction of that today. Times change, and not always for the better.
I was in South Dakota a few years ago and visited the state capitol building. The press room is in the basement, so I went down there to check it out, but it was empty and locked. I was told that reporters were only dispatched to the capitol for session days and important events. We’re not there yet, but that kinda spooked me.