This New Hampshire bar will become a pop-up newsroom for the 2020 primary

January 24, 2020

Chris Faraone first covered the New Hampshire primary 20 years ago. Politicians, issues and technology have changed a lot since then. One thing has not.

There’s no room for independent journalists to work, said Faraone, editor of DigBoston, an alt-weekly, and editorial director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In Manchester, he said, the hotel where media outlets set up to cover the primary “is completely partitioned off for all the bigs.”

There are only so many coffee shops to work in, Faraone said, but “reporters are resourceful people. We figure things out.”

In 2016, he and BINJ figured out a new place to cover the primaries, and they’re bringing it back for 2020 — a bar across the street from that hotel.

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Next month, from Shashkeen Pub, more than 20 reporters will cover the Democratic Primary for BINJ, which is offering its work through a free wire service. The bar-turned-newsroom-but-still-a-bar will also host events BINJ is organizing around the primary. 

BINJ will make the stories it covers in English (and some in Spanish) free to members of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and other trade alliances, but also to anyone who asks for it, Faraone said. (Email info@binjonline.org and include “New Hampshire wire” in the subject line.) 

Reporters plan to cover classic alt-weekly kinds of stories, like who’s eating what where, Faraone said, but also tackle a number of big issues they’re hearing people want answered by politicians, and not just horse race coverage. 

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BINJ is working with Hearken’s Citizen’s Agenda through an online survey to find out what people want to hear candidates talking about. So far, Faraone said, about 50 people have weighed in on topics including climate change, student loan debt and income inequality. 

“Of the notes we have received from readers and people who contributed thoughts on social media or email,” BINJ reported, “not a single person asked for more coverage of personal spats between candidates, or the kind of sensational reports that increasingly dominate headlines.” 

Laptops, printers and journalists will embed at the Shashkeen Feb. 5-11. Like last time, Faraone expects politicians, celebrities and a space for independent journalism. Also beer.

(Image courtesy BINJ)

Kristen Hare covers the transformation of local news for Poynter.org. She can be reached at khare@poynter.org or on Twitter at @kristenhare