Years ago, we relied on robust local newsroom reporters to bring us up to speed on how our elected officials were representing our interests in the Virginia General Assembly. But even then, the focus was more on the “what” and the “who” (this bill, that elected official) rather than on how legislation affected the everyday Virginians. And if you belonged to a minority community (people of color, LGBTQ, low-income communities) you were out of luck. No one would cover your story.
As newsrooms pared down their staff, the situation got even worse, with fewer and fewer local reporters able and willing to cover the depth and breadth of bills that affect all of our communities—especially marginalized ones. Today, it’s easy to find articles on politics, but rare to find ones that cover impact.
Richmond Reporter Covers Under-Reported News on Progressive Issues
That’s why, last week, Progress Virginia launched a pilot journalism project called “Richmond Reporter.” The organization hired a journalist not only to report on what the General Assembly is doing, but—as important—to explain to the rest of us what these issues are actually about and how they’ll affect us.
In the one week since Richmond Reporter launched, the project has published stories about progressive issues that you won’t find on the front pages of larger papers: how three bills on women’s reproductive health died in committee by just one vote, what happened to all the bills proposing to raise the minimum wage, how a bill seeking to ban bump stocks (like the one used by the Las Vegas shooter) fared, and more. This is all the stuff that lawmakers on the wrong side of the issues probably don’t want you to know. And now you can read about it every week.
So if you want to know what your elected officials are up to during this Virginia General Assembly session, head over to the Richmond Reporter site, sign up for a weekly digest of the week’s articles, or follow Mary Lee Clark (the journalist) on Twitter to see what she’s writing about each day.
PS—Check out Progress Virginia’s livestream of General Assembly hearings (watch them here).