Interested in writing about the hurly-burly of Tallahassee politics? GateHouse Media has a job for you.
The Legislative Session is fast approaching; the job, posted Dec. 21, has yet to be filled.
“GateHouse Media’s Florida newspapers are seeking an aggressive, multi-talented Capitol Bureau reporter to enhance the group’s coverage of statewide issues for a range of newspapers whose coverage areas span nearly the entire state, from the Panhandle, to inland agricultural areas to the coasts,” the posting asserts.
Indeed, for those who might expect a local reporter to focus on statewide issues relevant to the local market, that coverage area offers a wide scope.
Panama City, Gainesville, Ocala, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and Sarasota — all major metros with discrete needs and expectations from their legislative delegations.
“This reporter needs a voracious appetite for all things Florida, a willingness to depart from the herd in story selection and storytelling and an ability to juggle the demands of daily developments during the often chaotic days of the legislative session with the need for deeper dives into investigative pieces and data crunching, political analysis and the issues important to GateHouse’s diverse readership,” the posting adds.
And there is more, of course.
“The position also requires a reporter who can adeptly balance the immediate demands of digital news production with those of print, inform readers about the people who are making the policy decisions that will affect their daily lives and how – particularly those representing the areas covered by GateHouse’s papers – keep track of the special interests that influence decisions and get beyond the mechanics of what’s happening in Tallahassee to telling readers why it matters,” the posting continues.
There’s a lot to unpack in that 76-word sentence. And a lot of seemingly contradictory expectations, as a reader in Panama City and a reader in Jacksonville may have different views on what’s happening and why it matters.
“The beat demands a mix of daily, enterprise and longer-term investigative pieces that complements, rather than duplicates, what’s available from the wires,” the posting concludes.
GateHouse offers a map of Florida markets on its website, yet that map is incomplete, not reflecting recent acquisitions of Morris Publishing properties in Jacksonville, Daytona and St. Augustine.
Until late last year, Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union had a dedicated Tallahassee “bureau chief”: Tia Mitchell.
Mitchell was to “rebuild the paper’s presence in the state’s capital.”
But she has moved on, covering the DeKalb County beat for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
And the Florida Times-Union and other GateHouse properties will maintain an umbrella presence, one that “complements” the work of the Associated Press and News Service of Florida.
In Jacksonville, there have been some changes in the Florida Times-Union model already.
One such change: the outsourcing of printing operations, which leaves 50 workers contemplating job searches before local print operations are shuttered in February.
That outsourcing of printing could affect distribution of papers and force writers covering late events to offer truncated versions of local stories for the print edition — referring readers to the internet for the full story.
Daily journalism faces myriad challenges. And political journalism clearly is no exception.
In a state where population continues to grow, it is notable that daily newspaper subscribers in GateHouse markets will have to rely on “one size fits all” political coverage, reporting that by its very nature cannot drill into the unique intersection of local and regional players and their statewide representatives.