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January 13, 2014 2:51 PM Local Journalism Matters

By Ed Kilgore

One very clear thing emerging from the BridgeGate brouhaha is that the whole thing might never have been detected if not for careful reporting by the Bergen Record, the kind of small-market newspaper that has been on the endangered species list for decades.

At Ten Miles Square today, FCC advisor, former Washington Monthly editor, and Beliefnet founder (among other accomplishments) Steven Waldman takes a look at the Record’s role in the story, and why it was able to ferret it out. A key passage:

So why did the Bergen Record have a full-time transportation reporter and another investigative reporter they could detail to the story? According to the Washington Post recap it’s because it’s a family owned paper that had managed to avoid massive layoffs: “The newspaper’s staffing has weathered the decade-long industry decline by losing just 10 percent of its newsroom staff from its peak,” says Borg, and there are “no future staff reductions planned.” Nationally, newsrooms have lost about one third of their reporters, with many metro dailies seeing even sharper cuts.

You can imagine the stories in other places that are going unreported.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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