In a quote often misattributed to German statesman Otto von Bismarck, the American poet and politician John Godfrey Saxe said in 1869, “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.”
That’s a fancy way of saying if we understand the way government works, we might be grossed out.
Some people may not want to know how the system works but I and my colleagues at the Tennessee Lookout strongly believe that knowledge is power. Turning up our noses at government processes isn’t a luxury most of us can afford: We need to understand not only how the sausage is made, but who owns the pig, who runs the packing plant and who benefits from the sale of the sausage.
The average citizen doesn’t have the time or energy to dig into what they see on the nightly news and unfortunately, Tennessee, like other states, has seen a serious decline in media coverage of state government. Over the last 15 years, the number of employed journalists by newspapers across the country has dropped by about 50 percent since 2008 and 71% of newspapers don’t have a dedicated statehouse reporter.
That’s bad, but it gets worse. In 2015, the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan center for journalism, assessed all 50 states on measures of government accountability.
In an era when big corporations are slashing resources to newsrooms, laying off trusted local reporters, and coverage is shrinking, the Tennessee Lookout is excited to offer Tennesseans a fresh way to get intensive coverage of state and local issues.
We’ve assembled a top-notch team of veteran investigative reporters who understand Tennessee and have built trustworthy sources across communities. Between them, they’ve worked for three local newspapers over the last 20 years and have a combined 40 years in the industry.71 percent of newspapers don't have a statehouse reporter. The Tennessee Lookout is here to help. Click To Tweet
They’ll analyze legislation and policy and how what happens in Nashville trickles down to affect the rest of the state. We look forward to making the connections between lawmaking and your daily life — connections that frequently aren’t clear.
Whether the potholes on Stewart County roads are getting filled or if Davidson County gets a better transit system have more commonalities than you may realize, for both stem from decisions made by the Tennessee General Assembly.
Many outlets offer broad coverage of federal news but few explain how members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation are voting and what they are accomplishing for our state. Our DC Bureau does that, tracking their voting records and donors.
As part of States Newsroom, a national nonprofit funded by donations, we don’t sell advertising nor do we sell subscriptions. We provide our content free both to readers and to local media outlets, who don’t have statehouse reporters. You can be assured when you sign up for our newsletter, we don’t share your email address and your in-box remains spam-free.
Now, more than ever, accurate state and local news coverage is important. We’re fair and tough, and we look forward to serving you.