A new study from Pew Research Center found that reporters from niche outlets and digital news publishers outnumber daily newspaper reporters, marking a shift in the makeup of the press corps from previous years. Pew reports that the number of journalists on the Hill that produce local coverage fell from around 200 in the mid-90s to just under 60 by 2015. As of 2014, 32% of reporters in the Senate Press Gallery were daily newspaper publications, in contrast to the 37% of reports from digital and niche publications.
The evolution in the makeup of the Washington press corps signifies a shift in the ways Americans consume news. So called “digital-native” outlets have increased from just 2 in 2009 to over 70 in 2014. According to Pew, “Reporters for broad-interest news websites have only emerged in the Washington press corps in recent years. These are outlets such as The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed that publish on a daily basis and aim for a general audience.”
In an effort to understand the implications for local communities, Pew studied coverage of the federal government in eight local newspapers from across the United States, four of which maintain DC reports on staff and four that don’t. Their findings reveal that 71% of stories from DC reporters contained quotes directly from a member of Congress, three times more than the rate at which reporters outside the Beltway did.
Pew also found that non-DC reporters are much more likely to tie stories from the Hill to the implications they might have for citizens, while DC-based reporters were more likely to address the the impact a particular story had on the politicians involved. The study claims that the dwindling number of DC-based reporters and the increasing reliance of wire-based services makes it more difficult for local publications to deliver clear and consistent coverage of politicians on the Hill.
The results of the poll can be found here: http://www.journalism.org/2015/12/03/todays-washington-press-corps-more-digital-specialized/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=6316aa58cd-Weekly_Dec_3_201512_3_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-6316aa58cd-399587233