Home>Highlight>Bergen Record reporter laments loss of Washington-based reporter

Jonathan D. Salant says the photo of his lonely laptop and jacket in the press room of a National Transportation Safety Board hearing is “what it looks like” when there is only one full-time New Jersey reporter left manning a Washington bureau (TWITTER PHOTO)

Bergen Record reporter laments loss of Washington-based reporter

Curtis Tate: ‘Regional reporting does matter’

By David Wildstein, March 14 2019 8:22 pm

It’s been 71 days since the revered Herb Jackson took an early retirement package from The (Bergen) Record and moved over to Congressional Quarterly/Roll Call.

The Record has not filled Jackson’s slot, and with six layoffs so far this year, there is no indication that they will.

On Tuesday, Star-Ledger’s Jonathan D. Salant took a subtle shot at The Record’s failure to replace Jackson, tweeting a photo of his laptop and jacket as the sole reporter at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing.

“This is what it looks like when the @NTSB is holding a hearing on the fatal Teterboro plane crash and there is only one full-time New Jersey correspondent left in Washington,” Salant said in his tweet.

Today, The Record reporter Curtis Tate appeared to slam his own newspaper for not having boots on the ground in Washington.

Tate tweeted a link to a Washington Post column with the headline “Washington-based regional journalism is crucial.  It’s also in serious trouble.”

Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote that “regional reporters who are based in Washington and who serve as watchdogs on local congressional delegations and who pay close attention to how local issues are affected by the federal government.”

Tate tweeted twice in support of the Post’s argument.

“Regional reporting does matter,” Tate wrote.  “I also know this because I worked in a Washington bureau filled with regional reporters who knew not only their congressional delegations but were also well-versed in issues specific to their home papers. Solid Washington reporting is just as much about policy as it is politics.”

Tate also took a shot at Chartbeat, a private company that sells content intelligence to new organizations to help them determine content for the digital product.

“Chartbeat is incapable of measuring the benefit of any kind of reporting, regional or otherwise, that results in real changes in policy,” Tate scolded in his tweet.

It’s not uncommon for reporters to chastise their bosses publicly, although sometimes it’s done behind closed doors.

Shortly after Cory Booker’s February 1 announcement that he would seek the Democratic presidential nomination, a group of New Jersey-based Gannett political reporters were in a meeting with their bosses.

One of the Gannett brass had a novel idea: the group ought to own the coverage of Booker, the junior U.S. Senator from New Jersey.

He asked for any ideas on how to make that happen.

That’s when The Record’s Dustin Raccioppi piped in with notion of how to provide extensive coverage of Booker.

Have a Washington reporter, Raccioppi told his boss.

The Record was owned by the Borg family from 1930 until they sold it to the Gannett chain in 2016.  Since then, the newspaper has seen drastic reductions of its editorial staff.  Gannett has cut more than 400 newspaper jobs across the country, according to Crain’s.

Gannett, which reported larger than expected fourth quarter 2018 earnings, became the target of a hostile takeover last month after declining a $1.4 billion offer from Digital First Media.

Record editor Dan Sforza did not immediately respond to a January 23 request for comment about his newspaper’s plans to replace Jackson.

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