Two state house bureaus became one on Friday with the merging of operations between the Star Ledger and The Record of Bergen County. The editors tried to put a positive spin on the move:
The editors said the new arrangement made sense in an age when budget cuts, even before the current recession, have forced newspapers around the country to dramatically reduce reporting staffs. In December, several Star-Ledger reporters left the Trenton bureau as part of a sweeping buyout program.
“At a time when newspapers have had to cut back news staffs, this cooperation allows us to pool resources and better serve all our readers,” said Jim Willse, the editor of The Star-Ledger, in a prepared statement.
Frank Scandale, editor of The Record, said, “Sharing coverage while maintaining two distinct news operations is a common-sense response to the changing media landscape.”
While they may be recognizing the economic realities, HardnewsNJ reminds us just how many cuts have occurred to state house coverage recently:
While the move creates the largest Statehouse bureau in the nation, it further reduces the competition on Press Row that once drove coverage of state government news.
The Ledger and The Trenton Times, both owned by the Newhouse family, had previously combined their Statehouse bureaus. The New York Times recently shut its three-person bureau. Gannett, which owns the Asbury Park Press, The Courier Post, The Home News Tribune and The Courier News, reduced its Statehouse bureau to two from six.
Both of the papers were already doing with less. I hope they are able to continue the coverage they still provide without even more cuts in the future. This is an unfortunate reality that readers don’t have much choice but to accept. I wish the new combined operation luck. It’s kind of important that the people are able to know what their government is doing.