Is the statehouse newspaper reporter a dying breed? Not necessarily — but the number of newspaper reporters based in state capitol bureaus across the nation is dwindling quickly.
Last spring, the American Journalism Review published a study where results showed a decrease of more than 30 percent over a six-year period in the number of newspaper reporters covering state capitols full time. This survey was released while I was reporting in Jefferson City so it seized my attention and I continued reading similar reports published in other media.
The statehouse reporter may represent a comparably small portion of the journalism industry, but that role must survive. Democracy does not exist if the government — federal, state and local — is not held accountable by reporters who know the system and know how to report on it.
A month ago, I remembered the study and reports while I was searching for an idea for my capstone project. I doubted many people realized the importance of the statehouse newspaper reporter, so I contacted several reporters in the Jefferson City press corps and asked them to make a case for why the beat should live on.
This is their story.