Bloggers Can’t Fill the Gap Left by Shrinking Press Corps

Packs of lobbyists fill two rooms outside the House and Senate chambers in Richmond every afternoon, watching the proceedings on big video screens, zapping legislators with e-mails the instant the lobbyists sense that one of their bills might be in trouble. The interest groups that hire lobbyists can rest easy; they’ve got the legislature covered.Down the hall, the people’s representatives have a hangout of their own, the press room. But there, nearly half the desks are empty. Reporters have been called home, reassigned, bought out, laid off. Only one TV station in Virginia still has a reporter at the capital. Many newspapers have decided to cover the capital by phone, if at all.”Just look around — it’s dismal,” says Bob Lewis, the Associated Press’s veteran Richmond correspondent. A decade ago, he had twice as many colleagues covering state government. “And it’s not just the bodies that are gone — it’s the institutional memory and knowledge.”

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