As the number of journalists working at daily newspapers has declined, the number of reporters covering statehouses for these outlets also declined. A Pew Research Center survey found that newspapers had lost 164 full-time statehouse reporters, a decline of 35%, between 2003 and 2014. The Pew Research Center survey described that these veteran statehouse reporters have started to cover state politics for independent for-profit and non-profit digital news organizations. These “nontraditional” outlets, in the words of Pew, employ 126 full-time statehouse reporters, 17 percent of all full-time statehouse reporters. Independent outlets have arisen to fill the gaps in statehouse coverage created by the decreased statehouse staffing by newspapers. In my home state of Connecticut, two outlets have arisen to fill decreasing state capital coverage: The Connecticut Mirror and ctnewsjunkie.com.
The Connecticut Mirror was founded in 2009 with the mission to “produce deep reporting on government policies and politics, to become an invaluable resource for anyone who lives, works or cares about Connecticut, and to hold our policymakers accountable for their decisions and actions.” In 1989, over 24 reporters from the state’s daily newspapers covered Connecticut’s state capitol, today, there are under eight. The Mirror employs eleven journalists and now has the largest bureau covering the state capitol. A non-profit, the Mirror is funded by sponsorship, donations and advertising. The Mirror also has a reporter based in Washington, D.C. The Mirror provides in-depth coverage of the state capitol, including a bill tracking system and in-depth coverage of the budget.
Another website, ctnewsjunike.com, is a mostly a one-woman operation run by Christine Stuart, who became editor of the site in 2006 after it was founded in 2005. Ctnewsjunkie.com is aimed at political insiders and “junkies” in the state. According to its website, it aims to feature “original reporting on state politics, public policy, the courts, and also a healthy focus on our struggling health care system.” The website is a for-profit entity which accepts donations from readers. This website is more Hartford-centric than the Connecticut Mirror, which offers a more thorough coverage of the issues which face the state with a larger staff. Ctnewsjunkie does do a very good-job with state politics. Stuart recently exposed Michael Schroeder, a newspaper executive and owner of the New Britain Herald (a newspaper in Connecticut), as “Edward Clarkin”, a faked byline, on a story run criticizing a Nevada judge who had tangled with Sheldon Adelson. Schroeder was involved in Adelson’s secretive purchase of the Los Angeles Review-Journal.
Connecticut Mirror and ctnewsjunkie.com are two influential independent outlets in the state of Connecticut that are helping to fill the gaps left by the decline in the state’s newspaper’s coverage of state government.