As we discussed briefly on Wednesday, LobbyTools, Inc. news imprint The Florida Current is in the process of “evolving,” i.e. contracting or disappearing altogether. In itself this is simply a business decision made by the publication’s parent company to sacrifice in-depth coverage in order to bolster their bottom line.
But as the Current employed a significant portion of the full-time journalists covering our state government — “Frankly, we have the biggest team in the state of Florida,” LobbyTools President Sarah Iarussi boasted in 2011 — the move fits into an alarming pattern of reducing the number of expert eyes focused on the Capitol when we need them more than ever.
Don’t take my word for it. Take environmental reporter Bruce Ritchie’s, who until Tuesday covered the legislature and state agencies for the Current:
Several papers have consolidated and now are sharing coverage with fewer reporters. Aggregation sites are reaping the advertising dollars while posting news that other organizations are paying reporters to produce.
I’m deeply troubled by the trends in journalism. They seem to be taking me far away from my soul as a daily newspaper guy doing regional and state journalism.
Some people point to Mashable and the award-winning Climate Central as the future of online journalism. Sure those are quality sites. But I’m discouraged by the lack of reporting in state capitals and city halls across the country.
I’m especially discouraged by the lack of coverage of local and regional environmental issues, except when a publication wants to parade its big package as a scoop after years of ignoring the decisions that are made on a daily basis.
Read the entire post at his (excellent) blog Florida Environments. While Ritchie is far from the first to lament the decline of journalism’s staples — to “get the facts, talk to people and highlight an issue,” in his words — while fluff and cheap controversy hunting reign supreme on sites like The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, his example is one that hits close to home for Florida progressives and one which will leave us less informed on critical issues relating to our impaired waterways, cronyism in the Department of Environmental Protection and state preemption of home rule during sessions and elections to come.