Where the reporters have gone

When I left the News & Record last December, we had fewer reporters than anytime since at least the 1970s. Maybe earlier than that.

Madison Taylor, editor of the Times-News in Burlington, accurately describes what has happened to reporters in his post, “Where have the reporters gone.”

You could see it Tuesday at the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office when a press conference scheduled a day in advance to discuss new evidence in a cold case drew one print reporter — us. Only one TV station sent one of its reporters. The rest simply sent videographers who would supply B-roll for a quick voiceover taken from a press release. Not very long ago the Times-News would’ve been joined at such a press conference by the Greensboro News and Record the Durham Herald and possibly the Raleigh News and Observer. And every TV station would have a camera crew and a reporter. Might’ve even done a live satellite feed on site in Graham.

I, too, mourn the loss of reporters covering a community. Still, these days, the value of reporters from Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh covering a news conference in Burlington is dubious. As a Greensboro resident and News & Record reader, I don’t feel any loss not reading about that new evidence in my paper.

But I understand his point. The more reporters covering a community, the better. Yet, I must sadly note that, despite the decline in reporting strength, the collective news media has enough reporters to staff the Edwards trial as the jury deliberates. I don’t know how many reporters and photojournalists are twiddling their thumbs waiting. I am sure, though, that many of their readers and viewers would just as soon see their talents used in some other enterprising way.

(Photo credit: Charlotte Huffman, NBC-17)


4 thoughts on “Where the reporters have gone

  1. He fails to understand that the TV photographers are now reporters as well. An how does he know that that one person wasn’t streaming the Press Conference via his Cell Phone. I know this is an optimist view.

  2. John, isn’t the bigger worry the local stories that aren’t being covered because there isn’t the manpower to dig them out? How many stories are going uncovered because there just aren’t enough feet on the street to cover them? I don’t particularly care if one or fifty reporters cover a story (Edwards), but I care very much when not one covers a boring committee and so the community doesn’t learn about a sweetheart deal being done while every public meeting law is flaunted.

    In other words the lack of reporters leads to a huge opportunity cost for the media, and that’s a damn shame.

    • You’re exactly right, Jon. My sense is that communities get the news coverage they want to pay for.

  3. I should have added that not just anyone can cover the boring committee meeting. My assumption is that reporters have the experience and historical context to cover the committee meeting well – to explain what’s going on and to yell BS when they smell it.

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