New Group To Link State Capitol Reporters In Nationwide Network
By Stateline Staff
A new national group has formed linking state Capitol reporters in a professional association that will share news sources and ideas, provide a network for finding and filling jobs and reward outstanding reporting and writing.
The Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors also plans to sponsor a series of seminars at which statehouse-based journalists will be able to learn more about the issues that they cover on the beat.
ACRE has created an electronic list-serve on which members can ask colleagues across the country whether their governor's claim to be first or best at whatever he or she is doing rings true. The network also will help reporters see government and political trends coming by hearing about them from colleagues elsewhere before they pop up on the agenda in the statehouse.
The group's web site-www.capitolbeat.org-features a source list of experts in various fields from across the country. Along with names and numbers is a time-saving description of the source's value from someone who already has used that person in reporting a story. The site also has links to legislative policy groups and others that statehouse reporters might need to round out their coverage.
The web site will also include a jobs board where statehouse openings will be posted. A periodic newsletter will keep members informed of news and notes worth sharing from the capitols.
ACRE plans an annual contest to recognize outstanding work in a number of print and electronic categories. Awards will be presented at an annual conference that will feature sessions on computer-assisted reporting and panels of experts and journalists discussing issues emerging in the states.
ACRE was formed after more than 100 statehouse reporters attended a conference in Denver in October, 1999. The conference was prompted in part by concerns that newspapers and electronic media nationwide were cutting back on statehouse coverage and reducing the size of their capitol bureaus.
Reporters at the Denver meeting decided that a permanent, formal network to link journalists in capitols nationwide would help them do their jobs better and grow as professionals. A board of 11 journalists met a month later in Chicago to draw up a constitution and bylaws for the group and plan its first services and programs.
Among the board's first decisions was a vote to allow only working journalists and journalism professors into its membership. No lobbyists, politicians or public relations people will be accepted.
Seed money to cover the group's founding expenses has come from Stateline.org, a non-profit online service that tracks political news and legislation nationwide. Stateline is funded by the Pew Foundation.
ACRE has attained its own non-profit status through an agreement with the Institute for Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Springfield. The Institute also plans to help ACRE host periodic, issue-based workshops for members.
Future funding will be sought from media-oriented foundations, media companies and individuals.
Membership in ACRE is $40 a year.
For more information, check the Web site or contact ACRE President Genevieve Anton at the Denver Bureau of the Colorado Springs Gazette, 303-837-0613.