The president of the White House Correspondents Association scolded the Star-Ledger on Saturday for closing their Washington, D.C. bureau in March and laying off their veteran correspondent, Jonathan D. Salant.
“WHCA member Jonathan Salant was the last newspaper reporter based in Washington dedicated to covering the New Jersey congressional delegation, and then the Star-Ledger of Newark laid him off,” said Tamara Keith, an NPR reporter who heads the group. “You might imagine the politicians of that state may be breathing easier. Instead, many of them protested because they know that the citizens of New Jersey need that journalistic spotlight on their elected leaders.”
Salant’s departure drew harsh rebukes from New Jersey’s two U.S. Senators, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, Gov. Phil Murphy, and eleven of the twelve members of the state’s House delegation.
A former president of the National Press Club, he was re-elected to the Standing Committee of Correspondents in January. Salant had been the Washington correspondent for NJ Advance Media since 2014 and previously worked at Bloomberg, Associated Press, Congressional Quarterly, Newhouse News Service, Syracuse-Herald Journal, Albany Times Union, Miami Herald, The (Bergen) Record, and Newsday.
Keith made her comments while discussing media layoffs.
The Star-Ledger’s decision to shutter its Washington operation came four years after Gannett and the Bergen Record did the same. Herb Jackson, one of the state’s most respected journalists, was able to escape with a retirement package and is now an editor at Roll Call.
Salant was back at work within days as the new Washington reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Pennsylvania lawmakers, watch out,” Keith said.
Watch the speech: https://www.c-span.org/video/?c5068819/user-clip-whca-president-praises-regional-reporting