I’ve been switching beats, from covering the county commissioners to covering business. There’s been an important change in how county commissioners are covered by the news media, and I thought I’d share it with you.
I started at this paper in December 2004, covering Perkins Township. About three years ago, the previous county reporter, Brad Kane, left to take a job in Florida and I asked for his beat.
When I began, three reporters showed up at every county commissioner meeting. They were Richard Payerchin, a reporter for the Lorain Morning Journal, Steve Shoffner from WLEC-AM and myself. If I couldn’t make it, the Register would send a substitute reporter.
These days, only one reporter — the one from this newspaper — shows up at all county commissioner meetings. Today, for example, I was the only reporter as the commissioners laid off employees and discussed the budget. Shoffner quit coming a couple of format changes ago. Payerchin is a fine reporter but his paper closed his downtown Sandusky office last year. He still comes to some commissioner meetings, but he’s apparently stretched thin these days.
We’re also the only news organization that always covers other local government meetings, such as the Sandusky City Commission.
For some time, I’ve thought about whether to blog about this. I finally decided some of you might want to know.