Judging from the cursory coverage thus far of the Goldmark v. McKenna dispute, I can only assume that our local media just doesn’t get it. And while I expect this sort of thing from the McKenna-infatuated Seattle Times, I’m a bit surprised by the apparent lack of interest from even our dramatically shrunken Olympia press corps.
I mean, you’d think one of several story lines might catch some editor’s attention. You’ve got one statewide elected official taking another statewide elected official to the state Supreme Fucking Court… and for not doing his job, for chrisakes. That sure sounds sexy. And then you have the Okanogan County born and raised Commissioner of Public Lands — the only statewide elected official hailing from the other side of the mountains — attempting to protect his obscure part of the state from the Republican 2012 gubernatorial frontrunner’s expansive defense of a rapacious use of eminent domain. Just imagine the headlines.
Well, you may have to keep on imagining, because to be honest, political reporting in Washington state just isn’t all that good.
On the one hand, reporters in Olympia know state government really well, but politics… not so much. Oh, they think they know politics, because they hang out with legislators, but considering the odd fact that legislators don’t really drive politics in Washington state, this actually puts the Olympia press corps at a disadvantage. Then you have the Seattle reporters, who tend to kinda get the political stuff, but don’t really know the ins and outs of state government… at least not as well as the Olympia full-timers.
Oh… and our state’s few remaining experienced environmental reporters… the journalists most likely to be assigned a story that appears to concern natural resources…? No offense intended, but they really don’t know politics or state government.
Of course, everybody thinks they know everything — that’s human nature — so they don’t bother to ask about what they don’t know they don’t know.
It wasn’t always this way — you know, just a few years ago, when the Capitol press houses were packed to the gils with seasoned reporters competing with each other to break stories — but the sudden collapse of political coverage in our state has been absolutely stunning. And so stories like this tend to fall through the cracks because they are too political for environmental reporters, too environmental for Capitol reporters, too inside-Olympia for Seattle reporters and too wonky/legal for just about everybody in a state press corps that I’m not sure includes a single lawyer amongst its ranks.
And that’s how a constitutional crisis gets virtually ignored while a cute baby seal grabs front page headlines.