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In Pennsylvania, three newsrooms are teaming up to cover state government

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Via the Poynter Institute  | By Kristen Hare

The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and LNP Media Group announced Tuesday that they’ll work together to cover the state capital.

The project, Spotlight PA, is the second recent collaboration aimed at rebuilding state government coverage. Last week, three news organizations in Oregon announced the Oregon Capital Bureau.

In 2014, a Pew report found a 35 percent drop in the number of newspaper statehouse reporters. In Pennsylvania that year, the report found a total of 41 statehouse reporters, with just 24 in the job full time.

The Inquirer in Philly, the Post-Gazette, in Pittsburgh and LNP Media Group in Lancaster, will focus on explanatory and investigative coverage, according to a press release. The newsrooms will also work with students at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication. The project has so far raised $1 million dollars toward its three-year goal of $2 million dollars from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, The Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust and The Wyncote Foundation, according to the release.

The project will add three positions – an editor-in-chief, a head of technology and a development officer— and work with journalists at all three news organizations.

“In an era when so many important developments are occurring in the states, it is more vital than ever that we understand what is happening in these laboratories of democracy,” said Pittsburgh Post-Gazette executive editor David Shribman in a press release.

Spotlight PA will also work with another new project announced Tuesday: PA Post.That project is a new statewide non-profit collaboration between 11 partners with the goal of connecting Pennsylvanians “to their state, empower them to participate in the governing process, and hold state government accountable to its citizens,” according to a press release.

Partners include WITF in Harrisburg, and The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, PublicSource in Pittsburgh and WHYY in Philadelphia. WITF president and CEO Kathleen Pavelko in the press release that the new collaboration will work with Pennsylvanians. 

“We are continuously gathering citizen input online and in-person into what subjects to cover. We are soliciting questions our stories need to answer. We will be hosting gatherings and events in cities and towns throughout the state to engage citizens in two-way conversation.”

Funding to launch PA Post came from the Wyncote Foundation, the Philadelphia Foundation, the Kinsley Family Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. It will rely on individual donations and underwriting.

Kristen Hare covers the transformation of local news for the Poynter Institute. Her work for Poynter has earned her a Mirror Award nomination.
Kristen Hare |@kristenhare