Who’s covering state-level politics, anyway? Are they… suitable?

Eleanor Clift is very upset that nobody is covering state-level politics: “On a good day, state news is under-covered, especially compared to its importance. While multitudes of reporters in Washington chronicle the gridlocked Congress, the number of full-time reporters covering 50 statehouses has fallen to roughly 300, down from 500 in 2003, according to the Pew Research Center.” But is the situation that there is no coverage, or simply that the coverage is not by the right sort?

The decline in reporters working for mainstream or legacy media outlets has been filled in part by journalists hired by specialty news outlets like the Alaska Budget Report, which charges $2,397 for a year’s subscription, and the pro-free market Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Mark Jurkowitz, one of the authors of the Pew study, says the ideologically driven reporting tends to be on the right. Pew found only one organization in North Carolina identifying as progressive. “With resources stretched as thin as they are and reporters caught up in the day to day ping-pong, enterprise reporting or looking for scandal goes by the wayside.”

…Well. The more I think of that, the less seriously I take that last sentence. The media is still highly likely to pick up on a state-level scandal (any state-level scandal) involving a Republican; what coverage we have of state-level scandals involving Democrats pretty much comes by us horrid aforementioned ideologues bringing up the subject*.  I suspect that what bugs Eleanor Clift here is that there is a lack of grassroots Lefties doing coverage on the state level.

I also suspect that Clift will hating hearing why that would be.  To put it very simply: the Left simply cares more about federal policy than it does about state policy.  State policy, to them, is something that can be ignored when convenient; when it’s not convenient, there’s always Congress or the judiciary system there to overrule it. Either way, why ‘waste’ good people on it when they can be off yelling about Senators and Congressmen? – Oh, sure, the Left will attack governors. Governors are a traditional source of Presidential candidates. But get below that level and interest abruptly drops off.

None of this should be taken as an indication that the Right is doing fantastic at covering state-level politics.  Indeed, we’re barely at the level of ‘poor.’  So the more that informed citizens do in the future, the better off we’ll all be…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*See the fascinating story of Leland Yee for details along those lines. Note that Ms. Clift forgot to mention that story, despite the fact that it was an excellent example of the lack of national media interest in a state-level criminal case.

7 thoughts on “Who’s covering state-level politics, anyway? Are they… suitable?”

  1. There is some truth to this, state news is often under-reported, but I blame it on local newspapers and local news agencies, whom are essentially becoming lazy and relying on USA Today to give them all the news.

    That being said, the national news should still be covered bigtime, and this has more to do with the fact that we’re seeing more fluff pieces that don’t require any serious journalism, and less interest in covering serious news.

    1. The other issue is that there are few true “local” papers left. Most are now part of national news organizations therefore local news gets shorted. My local paper is basically the same paper as the rest of the towns in West MI just with a different name on top, very little local news, mostly national, with a smattering of state interest stories. Most of the state stories are about Detroit not the politics in Lansing.

      1. Pretty much.
        All the major newspapers in my state are owned by a large conglomerate. If you’re lucky, you’ll get three pages of state news. Almost none of it will relate to state politics.
        If you want to know what’s going on in state politics, talk radio and blogs are about your only options.

  2. What’s the current tally, 27-17-6 (R-D-I) regarding control of state houses, with 30 GOP governors? And what do you think the tally will be the after November?

      1. Seeing no sign that this will “correct” (for versions of “correct” that mean “dem gains”) in 2014, 2016, and maybe 2020.
        The “farm teams” for the Dems has not been doing well for a while now, I am pleased to say.

  3. Florida politics is so mind-numbingly meaningless right now, since the RPOF pretty much controls state government. Really, what’s to report here? Rick Scott is going to win. I give Charlie Crist a 30% of winning. Mainly because Obama is not at the top of the ticket and there is no US Senate race. I have gotten bored just thinking about it right now. I also saw back-to-back attacks from both candidates and I swear to Almighty God that they had the same voice-over guy attacking the other guy over the exact same thing!
    Frankly, it is all about ground game right now and (since there is no national election) the RPOF has tactical advantage in that field.
    Even if Crist hits the outside ball and gets re-elected, he’ll be facing a RPOF majority (if not veto-proof) legislature that will make sure that Crist wish he was back in his mother’s womb, where it was safe, warm, and wet.

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