October 1, 2010

New website covers statehouse news from across the nation

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People interested in what’s going on at state capitals around the country have a new resource in a website called StatehouseNewsOnline.com launched Thursday by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

News from MarylandReporter.com, Virginia Statehouse News, Illinois Statehouse News, the Nevada News Bureau and other online news operations that were established with the Franklin Center’s help will be posted on the site every day.

“StatehouseNewsOnline.com is a direct response to the growing vacuum in state-based coverage of the happenings in state capitals,” said Franklin Center President Jason Stverak. “By placing reporters in state capitals in several states, these reporters will have the opportunity to cover the daily happenings of government and hold elected and public officials accountable to the people.”

As the newspaper industry has taken a substantial hit in the past few years, the coverage and media presence in state capitols has dramatically diminished. A 2009 study by the American Journalism Review based at the University of Maryland College of Journalism found that only 355 full-time newspaper reporters are still based at the 50 state capitols; 44 statehouses have fewer full-time reporters than they did six years ago and some have only one, usually an Associated Press correspondent.

The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity assisted MarylandReporter.com with grant-writing and sources of financial support, and connected the Maryland operation with others news bureaus that are working to produce reporting in the nonprofit model from statehouses around the country.

Based in Alexandria, Va., the Franklin Center is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2009 on the belief that new technology can advance the cause of transparency in government.

The Franklin Center provides training for journalists in new media, investigative techniques and journalism ethics. It enhanced the reporting capacity of MarylandReporter.com during the General Assembly session in 2010 by providing two Benjamin Franklin Fellows, paid post-graduate journalists with degrees from Maryland schools.