The Changing Capitol Media Landscape

February 28, 2019

 

Is there really ever too much of a good thing? Not when it’s good journalism, and especially not when that coverage is focused on the statehouse.
 
A few years ago, news out of Harrisburg (and other state capitals, for that matter) was on the slide. Stories about shrinking staffs and newsroom consolidations became as common as reports about policy and budgets.
 
Just the opposite is true today.

 

The latest addition is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news site dedicated to aggressive coverage of state government, politics and policy. The online publication has a staff of four who have been churning out content since launching at the same time the governor was proposing his 2019-20 budget.

 

Earlier changes in the capital media landscape led the way.

 

In September, central Pennsylvania-based public broadcasting station WITF started PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization that brings together a team of seasoned reporters focused on government accountability. WITF also partners with other statewide networks on StateImpact PA, an online platform focused on energy.

 

As much as digital is the wave of the future, there’s still something to be said for ink-stained fingers, especially when thumbing through a copy of The Caucus, a weekly watchdog publication delivering investigative journalism focused on state government and everything that happens inside the Capitol.

 

Launched in January 2017, The Caucus recently celebrated its second anniversary --- perhaps a sign that this new trend in increased coverage is here to stay.

 

Pennsylvania Legislative Services, long a staple for those following the in and out of state government, also has expanded its Capitol coverage with PLS Reporter. PLS now has four full-time media staff covering the Capitol, producing original online and multi-media content.

 

Of course, the Capitol has always been anchored by strong publications, even if they look a bit different today than they did a decade ago, like PennLive/The Patriot-News or the collaborative effort between the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Spotlight PA works to ensure the state’s two largest cities --- and everyone in between --- receive their share of focused state investigative journalism.

 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Patriot-News share another commonality, as the Steel City paper prepares to trim its print edition to three days per week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The online platforms remain strong, however.

 

Not all news is good news, but regardless of how it’s packaged, more news from Harrisburg is always better for the residents who call Pennsylvania home.

 

Kurt Knaus is the Managing Director of Ceisler Media's Harrisburg office. 

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