Apr 6, 2022 - News

Texas sees biggest decline of full-time statehouse reporters

Change in statehouse reporters, 2014-2022
Data: Pew Research Center; Note: Includes part-time workers; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Texas saw the biggest drop-off of any state in full-time journalists covering the Capitol between 2014 and 2022, a new study by Pew Research Center found.

State of play: There are 16 fewer full-time journalists covering the Texas Capitol than there were eight years ago, Pew found from collecting data between Sept. 23, 2021 and March 11.

  • Sixteen states, including Texas, experienced losses in the number of reporters covering statehouses since 2014, while the total number of reporters assigned to the 50 state capitols increased by 11% since 2014.

Why it matters: Texas' population is booming, and statehouses are the epicenter of key public policy debates. Lawmakers' decisions in the Capitol have major ramifications for the economy, environment, residents and beyond.

  • Plus, journalists hold those elected officials accountable and deliver important information about behind-the-scenes maneuvers the public is often unaware of.

Yes, but: Despite declining numbers from 2014, Texas still has the second-largest statehouse reporting corps in the nation, following only California.

Zoom in: The Lone Star State saw a staggering drop in journalists in its press corps, according to a new survey by Pew, shrinking from 60 full-time statehouse reporters in 2014 to 44 in 2022.

  • The total number of reporters covering the Texas statehouse — whether full time or less than full time — declined from 107 to 78.

Zoom out: Nationwide gains largely came from new nonprofit newsrooms and a shift to more part-time statehouse reporting.

  • The number of reporters covering statehouses less than full time rose from 688 to 911.
  • And newspaper statehouse staffing declined the most between the two studies, although the sector still accounts for the largest portion of reporters nationally.

Methodology: Pew researchers conducted a census of reporters covering all 50 statehouses and conducted in-depth interviews with reporters, editors, legislative staff and industry experts.

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