Applause for the Pew Research Journalism Project, which sunk big resources into studying just what outlets were investing in coverage of statehouses around the country. It found that newspapers, the workhorses of the statehouse, have shed 164 reporters on this critical beat since 2003, and other media outlets haven’t quite filled the gap. Susan Moeller, news editor of the Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts, gives Pew the study’s money quote, putting her finger on the very dynamic that bedevils state politics coverage: “You can lay off your statehouse reporter or you can lay off somebody covering your town that is nearer and dearer to people’s hearts,” Moeller said. “You will lay off the statehouse reporter because you can get that from another source.” That “other source” is often the Associated Press, which, as Pew points out, also lost capacity on the statehouse front following the downturn of 2008. The AP tells Pew that it’s restocking, and that statehouse reporting is at the “core” of its mission.
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