Get out of your chair, news doesn't happen in newsrooms

Brown, Fred
March 2005
Quill;Mar2005, Vol. 93 Issue 2, p20
Trade Publication
This article presents the author's suggestion that U.S. reporters should make personal contact when gathering information. Technology has added a lot to reporting. It is much easier in a high-technology world to look up information, access public records, track down sources and calculate what statistics mean. But because there is so much information available to a reporter sitting in front of a computer screen, it is tempting to minimize what ought to be a vital element of journalism, which is personal contact. Something is lost when a journalist does not see the people he or she covers on a regular basis. There are very few beats anymore that cannot be covered primarily from the newsroom. Government beats are one exception. The beats that get the most daily, on-site reporter attention are at the higher levels of government, such as Congress, the White House, large federal agencies in Washington, D.C. and legislatures at the state level. But statehouse coverage has declined in recent years. News organizations have cut back on staffing. Column inches and air time have been reduced. City halls do not get the coverage they once did, either. The Denver City and County Building in Colorado, for instance, used to have an active media room. I think the room is used mostly for storage now.


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