Several readers have asked me to comment on the Arizona Republic closing its East Valley bureaus and leaving the reporters as "mobile reporters" to work from wherever they can find wifi for their laptops — Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. Here's a memo from Executive Editor Randy Lovely explaining the change.
This is a huge defeat for the community coverage the paper began in the mid-2000s. Staff has already been cut to the bone. All over, older reporters have been shown the door, and with that the Republic has lost massive amounts of institutional knowledge and skilled journalists that hold the powerful accountable. But, then, Gannett has long dismissed much serious journalism. It sees itself as an "information broker" with coverage closely tied to pleasing advertisers, hence the large number of one-source stories and lack of skeptical, contextualized stories backed by historical knowledge and sophistication. Eugene C. Pulliam was kicked off the masthead which now reads, "Republic Media."
Back in the 1990s, as executive business editor of the Charlotte Observer, I told my horrified bosses that all my staff needed were laptops, cell phones and faxes (!). I wanted them out of the newsroom. But these were veterans, many of them the best in their fields. What is lost without a newsroom, however, is the creative hive where people discuss journalism and learn. In Phoenix, this cutback will merely reinforce the feedback loop of losing readers, leading to more cuts, backed by questionable research of reader preferences, and the fads that Gannett always chases.
• Phoenix TSA makes breast-cancer survivors remove prostheses.
• Imagining the end of the nation state, "a planet in which urbanization, technology and capital accumulation had brought about a landscape where governments had given up on real reforms and had subcontracted many responsibilities to outside parties, which then set up enclaves operating under their own laws."
• LA's downtown live-work boom. If only Phoenix could learn from it.
• Red states are most affected by the federal shutdown (natch).