Just 1 in 10 TV newsrooms have beat-based reporters

Diana Marszalek writes that the disappearance of beat-based reporting “may be taking broadcast journalism down with it.” She cites a media strategist’s estimate that just 1 in 10 TV stations assign their reporters to formal beats. Time and money are the reasons, although some stations — such as those in top markets — have not abandoned them. Although Marszalek story focuses on TV, newspapers also have cut back on the number of beats due to layoffs and to cover breaking news for the Web. In my conversations with colleagues at newspapers around the country, I’ve heard how their employers have dropped beats once considered essential, full-time jobs, such as courts and municipal government, or combined them with others. In other cases, specialized beats such as higher education have gotten the ax. A recent FCC report notes that one reason it took so long for the corruption in Bell, Calif., to come to light was that no local media regularly covered the city government.

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  • Tom DeVries

    It is darn unlikely that there would ever have been regular coverage of Bell, a town of 35,000 in LA county.  And it was afterall the LA Times who did finally break the story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pat-Snelling/100000912106814 Pat Snelling

    As an old retired journalist, I couldn’t get our local stations in Sacramento to cover the story about Rep. Tom McClintock meeting with CV farmers and agreeing to give his District’s water right’s away.  I wrote articles and opinion pieces, called news rooms…Finally Stockton, Vacaville and Auburn picked up the story, but dead silence on the local TV stations.  After the Newspapers ran their stories, McClintock backed down.

    Maybe Steve, you could look into that.  Local stations are too afraid to report on their elected officials… Sacramento stations would be a good place to start.  They refused to cover anything about Doolittle until Abramoff was arrested and going to trial.