More reporters improve Statehouse coverage

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By Steve Key

More with less – that’s been the theme for Indiana newspapers in the past few years.

While the recession has forced many operations to pare their workforce, papers are trying to do more, whether it’s adding mobile app content, expanding Internet products or producing niche publications throughout the year.

With that in mind, I’d like to salute some efforts to deal with this dilemma and urge publishers to take advantage of opportunities available to bring their readers additional news at little or no cost.

Cnhi gets a salute for investing resources in the hiring of a Statehouse reporter. Maureen Hayden is following the legislature for cnhi’s 14 Indiana newspapers. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a new face added to what has been a dwindling core of reporters covering state government.

For those who don’t have multiple newspaper budgets to share the costs of a new reporter, Franklin College’s journalism department has stepped forward to provide an alternative for collecting news at the Statehouse.

John Krull, director of the college’s Pulliam School of Journalism, leads a cadre of students who are covering the legislature and state government.

Franklin College Statehouse Bureau stories are available to HSPA member newspapers for free through the association’s InfoNet content-sharing program at hspainfo.net.

The bureau is a winner for all involved.

Students get experience in covering a beat and create clips that can show editors their skills when they start looking for a journalism job.

Indiana newspapers have an opportunity to add coverage of state government to their print or Internet products without hiring a new reporter.

Hoosiers win if their local newspaper provides more news about the legislature. An informed electorate is more apt to make their voices known to their state senators and representatives.

Distribution of the Franklin College stories is only one aspect of HSPA’s

InfoNet service that Indiana newspapers can utilize.

More than 70 Indiana newspapers are using InfoNet to share content, but that’s less than half of the state’s papers.

John DePrez Jr., former Shelbyville News publisher who is now with

HBMediaGroup, browses the websites of participating newspapers to put together a list of stories that might be of interest to readers throughout the state.

Editors are using the stories to supplement their current coverage of state issues. Editors are also reviewing the InfoNet-posted stories to see how their peers are covering particular issues.

Another piece of the InfoNet tree that HSPA is trying to grow is a freelancer marketplace.

Freelance writers, photographers and videographers are encouraged to list their available work for sale and their contact information on the website.

Newspapers can either purchase completed work or hire freelancers for a particular assignment, be it coverage of a murder trial that has been moved to another county or a feature story for use in a special section.

The InfoNet project sprang to life in 2010 and will be evaluated by the HSPA board of directors near the end of the year.

I encourage publishers and editors who have not explored the website to do so and become a full-fledged participant.

If you have questions about InfoNet, contact me at (317) 624-4427 or skey@hspa.com.

Stephen Key is executive director and general counsel for HSPA.