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Video: Bob Schieffer On the Importance of Having Strong Beat Reporters as Antidote to Corruption

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What Bob Schieffer’s talking about here (see partial transcript below) is so, so true, certainly in Virginia state (and local) government. I mean, just think about the decline of the Virginia state capitol press corps(e) the past few years, the exodus of reporters with decades of experience from keeping an eye on the crooks shenanigans going on in the Virginia General Assembly. Quick multiple-choice question: without that sunshine, do you think things will get a) better; b) worse? Hmmmm. And yes, political blogs have filled the gap to a small extent, but they’re not even close to having the resources necessary to cover the Virginia General Assembly on a day-to-day basis during session, let alone the rest of the year. So…next time you hear someone complain about how corrupt things are in government, remind them that there are fewer and fewer experienced eyes (or any eyes for that matter) shining any light on what’s going on there.

P.S. h/t to Chris Cillizza on this interview. As Cillizza writes: “Not only are there fewer eyes watching politicians, legislation and the like but also the pols are all-too-well well aware of that fact.  More things are tried — in a bad way — by politicians because they know there is a far smaller chance of them getting caught or even called on it.” Not good at all.

…one of the things that worries me about current journalism practices is the deemphasis on beat reporters. You know, so many newspapers around the country now – and I’m really worried about the state of newspaper journalism right now – because unless some entity comes along and does what local newspapers have been doing all these years, we’re going to have corruption at a level we’ve never experienced…So many papers now can’t afford to have a beat reporter…many papers don’t have a city hall reporter anymore…to cover city hall you have to be there every day, and you have to know the overall story…