Dramatic change in Washington corps

“The corps of journalists covering Washington D.C. at the dawn of the Obama Administration is not so much smaller as it is dramatically transformed,” said a report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The report used the word shock in describing the degree to which “what we once thought of as the mainstream news media serving a general public has indeed shrunk.” But the story is not that simple: “a new sector of niche media has grown in its place, offering more specialized and detailed information than the general media to smaller, elite audiences, often built around narrowly targeted financial, lobbying and political interests.”

As an Associated Press report notes the report also said “Washington also has many more foreign reporters covering the U.S. from their perspective” including nearly the same number of journalists working for Arab news channel Al-Jazeera as work for the American CBS News, and adding that “The Canadian Press maintains an office in Washington to cover politics and a range of other issues.”

The rest of the world, of course, has a stake in knowing what’s going on in Washington. So do Americans — the surprise should be that they have let their news gathering agencies atrophy.