Associated Press

AP Abandons Maryland

I’ve written previously about the issue of media consolidation in Maryland, and how reduced coverage of State Government impacts the ability to keep an eye on what’s going on in Annapolis.

The latest example of the media abandoning Maryland is this job announcement from the Associated Press:

The Associated Press seeks a Newsperson/Legislative Relief Reporter for a 12-week temporary position as part of its Statehouse bureau in Annapolis, Md.

This reporter will be part of a two-person team covering politics and government for state, national and international audiences. We are seeking a journalist who excels at investigative and accountability coverage, has a track record of aggressive and successful sourcebuilding, is adept at using documents and public records to break news, and who can set the agenda by working sources and writing about news and issues before other outlets.

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Now I don’t begrudge the fact that the Associated Press is going to be hiring a new investigative journalist to work the State House beat along with the very capable Brian Witte. My questions is why are they hiring such a short-timer?

In essence, the Associated Press is advertising for a “Newsperson” to work solely during the 2015 General Assembly session. The position, as stated, is only slated to last 12 weeks. You’ll notice that a 90-day General Assembly session lasts for 6 weeks and 6 days. So instead of hiring somebody to get the lay of the land, get their feet week, and be a permanent part of the State House press corps, the AP instead is bringing in a ringer to merely work for the 90-day session.

In that time period, how does the AP expect this reporter to get their feet under them? How will they understand how Annapolis works? How will their develop the sources necessary to conduct legitimate investigative journalism? How will they be able figure out the history of issues in the State of Maryland, what they mean to State Government, and how they impact readership?  And if they are only are going to be around for 12 weeks, will the person hired for this spot even care enough to try to work those leads and make those connections?

The Associated Press used to have a strong State House bureau, led by veteran reporter Tom Stuckey. I’m not sure if the AP policy is to severely limit State House coverage across the country, by they seem to be mailing it in here in Annapolis at a time in which we need additional eyes watching our State.

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