State-funded news? As media shrinks, PA lawmakers set up their own cameras

July 24, 2019

 

At first glance, the Pennsylvania Legislature’s state-funded TV news operation to distribute content from its members may seem an affront to tax-paying constituents. But as a long-time communications professional in Pennsylvania (as well as a taxpayer), I view it a bit differently.  


It seems that nearly every week we hear about a beloved, long-standing newspaper folding shop; or a media group being acquired by hedge fund managers who decimate its local reporting; or buy-outs at papers of record where well-respected career journalists are taken off the beats and issues they know best. Another community loses a valuable news resource and we’re all the poorer for it. 


So I understand the desire and the need for legislators to communicate their work and community news directly to their constituents. The ability and availability of local media outlets in their districts to report on these events is simply not what it once was. 


This is not a criticism, but just a realistic and sad acknowledgement. As communications professionals, our job is to reach our clients’ audiences as best we can, but there is a shrinking traditional media universe in which we can operate. We have to find new channels and new platforms to tell our stories and make those connections – which is what legislators in PA are doing. 


The media plays an invaluable role in vigilance and accountability for those in power, as is made clear by the attached story. But I don’t think the capitol news operation is wholly self-serving for our elected officials. I’m a big believer that more information is preferable to less, so the next time I receive news from my elected official, I will welcome it.  

 

Meredith Montalto is a Director in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office. 

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