Since they didn’t, it suggests that these papers have focused their remaining resources on narrowly local stories—a choice that has costs, but also in many ways makes sense in the current media landscape. Meanwhile, the fact that MacGillis uncovered the Ohio investigation and sparked a round of local coverage is a sign that for all of the industry turmoil, national political reporting remains pretty robust, and at times capable of reaching beyond the Beltway. (The New Republic in particular is now on firmer footing, and even looking to expand.) And we shouldn’t forget that the story that apparently prompted the investigation came from The Blade, which, like The Plain Dealer and a few others in Ohio, is a local paper that continues to provide strong politics coverage.

So while there are certainly worrying gaps and holes in contemporary politics coverage—and, as Oplinger of the Beacon Journal acknowledged, many newspapers are still “working through” how to make the most of their remaining resources—there are some silver linings to be found here. In the coming months, it will be up to reporters in the Buckeye State to make the most of what works in the current media landscape. An avalanche of money is coming our way, and the press is going to have to work hard—and work together—to sift through this heavily-funded bombast and help the public learn who these candidates really are.

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T.C. Brown covered government and politics in the Ohio Statehouse Bureau for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland for more than 17 years, and he has also written for other local, state and national publications. Brown is a founding partner in Webface, a social media communication company.