If you’re looking for a beat to cover in Washington, you might want to take a look at the American Journalism Review’s assessment of the coverage of federal agencies.
In a study, AJR found that many federal regulators have less mainstream media coverage than the last time the survey was completed in 2003. AJR included newspapers, network and cable television and public news organizations in the study. It only counted journalists who burrow “into departments and agencies, developing reliable sources, serving as a watchdog.”
The results are surprising. Since 2003, the number of reporters covering the Defense, State, Justice and even the Treasury (surprising considering the bank bailout) has dropped considerably. Many of the other agencies, like Agriculture or the IRS, only have two or three beat reporters constantly covering news that arises.
There’s a hole in the study because it appears to not take into account online journalists, which would considerably increase the number of beat writers covering some these agencies.
But if you’re looking for a federal agency to report on, here’s a good way to arbitrage the industry and find a beat that needs help.