A reporter’s job interview the latest sign of the decline of journalism (in Florida)

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

There is a particularly wicked scene in the Batman movie The Dark Knight when the Joker kills a mob boss, and then gives his three subordinates one half-broken pool cue – and basically tells them that to live, the other two have to die.

Earlier this week, after I wrote that our company had one reporting position to offer to the employees of the struggling Orlando Sentinel, there was a moment when I felt like Heath Ledger.

This real-life version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma played itself out as more than two dozen journalists (not all of them Sentinel employees) inquired about the position.

Interviewing one otherwise well-credentialed prospect, I ended up shaking my head at the state of political journalism in the Sunshine State.

The conversation started off well enough. He was a reporter at one of the Sentinel’s regional competitors. He described himself as a government reporter. He was proud of his coverage of a major, ongoing policy debate.

So far, so good.

That’s when I got a hair up my ass and asked, “Who is the Speaker of the Florida House?”

I wasn’t trying to play gotcha. I wasn’t trying to trip up this reporter. All I really wanted the interviewee to say was, “Are you kidding me? It’s Steve freakin’ Crisafulli.”

Instead, all I heard was crickets.

OK I said, now interested in pushing the issue, can you name two of the people running for Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat?

“Sure,” he said. “Ron DeSantis and Al something or other.”

Al something or other. This from not a recent J-school grad … not from an out-of-state reporter unfamiliar with Florida politics. No, this is a reporter working at a mid-sized daily who a community depends on for coverage of state and local government.

And he couldn’t even name the Speaker of the Florida House.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.