That’s a question the reporters on both sides of the state line should pursue going forward. It’s important to note how the “war” story is told in different ways on either side of the border—and to draw some lessons about the value of diverse source networks, or at least reading reporters with different sources. And in trying to suss out the history of the negotiations, news outlets across both states have a common interest in bringing pressure against the gag order.

But the focus on the causes of water shortage, and the oyster collapse, isn’t just about checking politicians’ rhetoric and assigning responsibility. It’s also about trying to steer the discussion toward addressing these problems before they get worse.

“It’s important to go back at it and look at what the states are really doing,” said Pittman, of the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s like covering a slow-moving hurricane. It’s a disaster.”

This post has been updated to include more complete information about Bruce Ritchie’s career history.

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Susannah Nesmith is a Miami-based freelance writer and the faculty adviser to Barry University's student newspaper, The Barry Buccaneer. Follow her on Twitter @susannahnesmith.