Gannett recently launched a new state capitol bureau to serve its 14 Pennsylvania properties and the USA Today Network’s Atlantic Region.
The opportunity arose after the Gannett and GateHouse merger last fall. While Gannett had previously operated four newspapers in and around New York and Pennsylvania, GateHouse had a “corner to corner” footprint in the latter state, explained Shane Fitzgerald, Atlantic sub-regional executive editor at Gannett. In addition, the organization had already seen a lot of success with the USA Today Network state bureaus in New Jersey and New York and wanted to create one for Pennsylvania.
“We really have a chance to have an impact and really cover the state in a way with resources that we never had before,” Fitzgerald said.
The new state capitol bureau team includes Scott Fisher, Candy Woodall and J.D. Prose. Fisher will serve as editor and continue his role as engagement and opinion editor for the York Daily Record. Woodall, currently an investigative reporter for the York paper, will partner with Prose, a government and politics reporter for the Beaver County Times, to cover the capitol, statewide issues and supplement coverage for the Pennsylvania publications. Currently, Woodall and Prose are transitioning from their organizations to the bureau. Eventually, they will focus solely on their work there, Fitzgerald said.
He added that the three journalists were selected based on their experience. Fisher has been a part of the capitol bureau editorial pages in York for a long time, Fitzgerald explained. He described Woodall as a “tremendous reporter” who has been covering politics for a while, and said that Prose knows and understands Western Pennsylvania and a remarkable amount of people after covering the area for 20 years.
For now, the three journalists are working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Fitzgerald said that there is value in them working from home as they are close to the capitol in Harrisburg and they can still stay connected with what is happening locally in their respective areas as well.
The bureau seeks to be flexible and creative when creating content. Aside from the written format, Fitzgerald said the bureau is interested in producing podcasts, video and infographics as well.
“We’re not going to do the daily legislative update,” Fitzgerald said. “This is about watchdog enterprise journalism and giving really good reporters time and resources to work on impactful journalism.”