[NOTE: I’m not sure what happened, but the server burped and I lost this post, and all its comments. Strange. So please add your comments to the thread again.]
With a budget battle brewing in what will be one of the most consequential legislative sessions in years, the number of journalists covering our state government has plummeted:
During the past 15 years, the state population has increased by 25 percent and the amount of tax money spent by the state has more than doubled. Yet the number of print, television and radio journalists covering the state Legislature full time has dropped by about 70 percent.
[…] In 1993, there were 34 journalists covering the Washington state Legislature. By 2007, there were 17. This year, there may be as few as 10 full-time journalists, mostly newspaper reporters.
We are facing the prospect of a huge hole in political coverage, with potentially devastating results for our state’s citizenry, but it’s also an opportunity for new media to rise to the task and help fill the void. I thought about heading down to Olympia myself for the session, or hiring some youngster at slave wages to do it for me, but what’s really needed is a seasoned reporter who knows the ropes. You know… like Josh Feit, who has been covering the Capitol for years.
The problem, of course, is the money. It’ll cost HA about $15,000 in salary and expenses to pay Josh to cover this four month session… and that’s on top of the money I ultimately need to raise to support myself. And I’d like to hear from you, my readers, whether you think it is worth it?
I don’t expect to raise all, or even most of the money in an online fund drive; I’m pursuing larger commitments from individuals and interest groups eager to see more in depth coverage of the coming session while promoting the growth of independent media. But it all starts with your support.
So let me know what you think about these ambitious plans, and we’ll move on from there.