WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Smaller Newsrooms, Larger Coverage Areas

Jan 27, 2015

It’s rare to find a news outlet that focuses exclusively on a single community.

Reporters are being asked to cover wider and wider areas at the same time many newsrooms are cutting back on staff.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton worked for a television station in West Virginia that covered a tri state area. She said it’s a challenge to cover a wide geographical area. 

Crighton said she regularly checked newspapers from outlying areas to determine whether to send a reporter to those areas to work on stories even though that sometimes meant playing catch-up.

Rich Egger said some newsrooms are merging to improve their coverage.  For example, public radio station WUIS in Springfield now collaborates with Illinois Issues magazine. 

In addition, reporters for those outlets have taken up beats such as education – rather than simply covering various school board meetings, the focus is on larger issues in education.

Rich Moreno praised such partnerships.  He also appreciates coverage from bureaus, such as the southeast Iowa bureau for Tri States Public Radio. He wishes more newspapers did that.

Moreno said it was once common for papers to staff bureaus but many have now cut back. He said the cutbacks include a reduction in the number of bureaus at the Illinois statehouse.