Newspapers — good ones, at least — do two things that, if their staffs shrivel, no TV station, Web site or blogger will be able to match. One is to provide detailed local coverage of schools, hospitals, zoning battles and town councils. The other is holding public officials and business executives accountable with aggressive investigative work.
Exactly. And that means concentrating the focus of the staff, at most, within the state and specifically in the county or municipality in which the paper is located.
Investigative reporting doesn’t just mean maintaining separate SWAT teams. Beat reporters do important digging all the time, but that requires having a few extra days or weeks to pursue leads and pore over records. If, in depleted newsrooms, they have to churn out copy every other hour, the chances that they’ll look into the mayor’s land deal or the congressman’s favors for big contributors are greatly diminished.
Here he talks about the staffing necessary to be able to do what has been suggested. IOW, while it may not take as big a staff as is there today, it will still take a sizable staff to enable the time necessary to do the leg work one must do to produce in-depth reports.
Some newspapers are overstaffed. Not all budget cuts are bad. Not every newspaper in America needs to have a reporter covering the White House, or London, or attending political conventions and writing the same pap as everyone else. What’s more, lest they suffer the fate of General Motors by churning out gas-guzzlers, they need to move more boldly into the digital age, which probably requires smaller newsrooms than in the past as print circulations decline.
Bold line is key. Also key is knowing what staff is sufficient to produce the product necessary to survive in the digital and internet age.