Giving readers a clear picture of marijuana legislation and its effects takes more than one angle, said Frank Baker, who’s leading the Associated Press’ new marijuana beat team.
“Marijuana intersects with life in so many areas: government regulation and taxation, law enforcement, politics, science and health, agriculture, business,” he said. “You simply can’t tell the full story from a single vantage point.”
The new beat team, which was announced in January, is the “brainchild” of AP’s news director for U.S. West Anna Johnson, who saw the growing amount of attention the subject is receiving.
“Whether they love, hate or are ambivalent about marijuana, people want to read about it,” Baker said. “Anna saw all that and the staying power the subject has and suggested a team and me as the leader.”
One thing his team will have to overcome he said is the need to stay on top of other breaking news stories.
“AP lives on breaking news and there’s a lot of it these days,” Baker said. “Everyone on this team knows that coverage trumps everything else so my job will be finding that sweet spot so they can pursue marijuana stories while still delivering breaking news when it happens in their areas.”