This October 23rd NPR piece does some of these things well while filling in what Smith’s coal-themed TV ad “doesn’t mention,” including that

while new federal regulations certainly have made things harder for the coal industry, the real threat is the cheap, abundant natural gas created by the ongoing domestic shale boom. Natural gas is easier to obtain and cheaper to purchase, so more and more power plants are relying on gas instead of coal.
Alpha Resources shut down eight mines, including one in Pennsylvania, last month, and PBS Coals laid off a quarter of its workforce in July.

And on October 28th, the Associated Press’s Marc Levy took a detailed look at the “high-profile place” Smith has given coal in his campaign, an account that ran in southeastern Pennsylvania’s Lebanon Daily News, among other outlets.

Pennsylvanians have heard a lot about coal from campaign ads, particularly in the past week. Reporters, though, haven’t fully met the challenge of filling voters in on what the ads leave out.


Ken Knelly served as metro editor at The Times-Tribune in Scranton and as senior editor for government and business at The State in Columbia, S.C. He owns Clearberries, a communications consulting and training firm, and works for a Christian college in Northeastern Pennsylvania.