A New Jersey congressman took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday to sharply criticize NJ Advance Media and the Star-Ledger for closing their Capitol Hill bureau and laying off their lone reporter there.
Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark), who lives in the city where the Newark Star-Ledger is based, condemned the newspaper for falling short of its responsibility to cover local news.
“This closure robs New Jersey readers of critical and political information, and it undermines the media outlet’s responsibility to keep its readers informed,” said Payne. “Now, New Jersey readers will not know how congressional funding benefits their communities, and they will not know how they will be affected by legislation and possible political corruption.”
Payne joined two U.S. Senators and ten other Members of Congress from New Jersey last month protesting the Star-Ledger’s decision and praising their reporter, Jonathan D. Salant. The Star-Ledger’s owner and executives never responded to a letter sent by the delegation.
According to Payne, one reporter – Salant was a workhorse – was a cost-effective way to keep New Jerseyans informed.
“Instead, NJ Advance Media betrayed the very purpose of a news outlet to increase the bottom line, I hope NJAM will reopen this bureau soon and provide effective coverage of national politics to its New Jersey constituents.”
Meanwhile, Salant quickly landed on his feet. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hired him as their Washington-based assistant managing editor for politics. Next month, Salant will be inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.