Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Capitol Press Corps loses another as TNT's Joe Turner announces retirement

There goes another one.

Over the last few years, we've been witnessing quite the exodus from the White House and the Blue House in Olympia, where the statehouse press corps are stationed. Back at the height of this summer The Spokesman Review's Rich Roesler departed to work for Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. Now the Tacoma News Tribune's chief political reporter, Joe Turner, is retiring, effective November 1st.
I gave serious thought to taking a buy-out that was offered by McClatchy at the beginning of this year. But some of my colleagues in the Olympia Press Corps prevailed on me to stay for at least one more legislative session. I’m glad I did. It was an interesting and hectic session as the Legislature dealt with a $9 billion budget shortfall.

But now it’s time for me to leave. It’s pretty simple: The aggravations of the job outweigh the rewards. And those rewards were substantial. I have been the statehouse reporter for The Tacoma News Tribune -- It will always be the TNT for me -- for most of the past 20 years, a goal that I set for myself in college in the early 1970s.

I regret my departure will further erode the statehouse press corps. Part of me wants to stay and be one of the “300 Spartans” who still are watchdogs on state government. But not at half rations, figuratively speaking.
Turned later added:
Blogs won’t replace newspapers. They are like newspapers before the Civil War, where each of them espoused a particular viewpoint and finding neutral reporting was difficult if not impossible.
And yet he chose to announce his retirement in a blog post.

When are reporters going to learn... it's not about the medium, it's about the content. Any newspaper that contains an op-ed page contains opinion as well as objective reporting. There are people who would argue that there really is no such thing as true objective reporting, that even the best reporters exhibit biases by serving as gatekeepers based on what they decide to write about.

Blogs can be objective, or they can be subjective, just like any other kind of media, be it a newspaper, magazine, book, television program, or radio program. The number of blogs that are written more objectively, focusing on neighborhood happenings and hyperlocal news, for instance, is on the rise.

Turner is right in one sense: Blogs won't render newspapers obsolete. The big metro daily does appear to be dying a slow death (its business model is slowly crumbling, and nobody has figured out a way to stop the erosion), but the medium of print is not dying. Smaller newspapers will endure and will continue to be published. So will books and magazines. There will always be a need for the printed word.

We wish Joe the best as he says goodbye to the Tacoma News Tribune and retires from three decades of reporting. The press corps won't be the same without him.


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