The World-Herald editors know how important national news coverage is to their readers—because the readers told them so. A few years ago, Reilly said, they ran a survey asking their audience what topics they cared the most about. The results of the survey encouraged them to keep allocating staff time to national stories. The World-Herald still has a full time staff reporter based in Washington, D.C. Joseph Morton, who was recently elected president of the Regional Reporters Association, has been in the Washington bureau for about four years.
“I don’t think there’s any question that the ranks of regional reporters here in Washington have been dwindling over the years,” Morton said. “At the same time, I do know of examples where the newer technology has allowed some papers to put someone back in Washington where they didn’t have one for a while…with a Verizon air card and a laptop, they can work out of the press galley of the Capitol, or a coffee shop, or wherever.”
Morton agrees with his colleagues that it is important to maintain a physical presence in Washington. For one thing, he hears about important policy changes sooner than he would sitting at a desk in Omaha. And he wouldn’t be able to chase people down hallways for a quote if he were back in Omaha, either.
Being on the Hill every day allows Morton’s readers to have a connection to the national policy decisions that will affect them—in some ways that are unique to Nebraska residents, and other ways that are more universal.
“Most Omahans think of themselves as Americans before they think of themselves as Omahans,” said executive editor Reilly. “And in all of the obvious ways the world is getting smaller. So it’s important to us that we always look for ways to bring the world home.”