Friday, January 2, 2009

whither the watchdogs...

While i was in the midst of the holiday blitz, Jack sent me this link to a piece in the New York Times about the ever-shrinking number of news bureaus in Washington, D.C.

Finally got around to posting it. It's an old story, but one that grows worse by the week. One of the sources in the piece is Representative Kevin Brady, a Republican from the Houston area, who has seen his hometown paper's staff in Washington drop from nine to three in two three people, from nine, in two years. “From an informed public standpoint, it’s alarming,” he said. “They’re letting go those with the most institutional knowledge, which helps reporters hold elected officials accountable.”

As Jack says, "you know when a republican from texas laments the press leaving,
you're in trouble."

From the story, by Richard Perez-Pena:

"The times may be news-rich, but newspapers are cash-poor, facing their direst financial straits since the Depression. Racing to cut costs as they lose revenue, most have decided that their future lies in local news, not national or international events. That has put a bull’s-eye on expensive Washington bureaus.

"Albert R. Hunt, Washington executive editor at Bloomberg News, said he was taken aback by the mood Saturday night at a dinner of the Washington press corps’ Gridiron Club. 'It was like being at a wake,' he said. 'Every time you turned around, someone was talking about their bureau being closed or downsized.'

"A few years ago, after much debate, the club began to admit magazine and television reporters. Now, without them, 'there couldn’t be a Gridiron Club,' Mr. Hunt said. 'You couldn’t get enough newspaper people.'”

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