By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Journalists who have covered the State House from the 1970s to the present gathered in Representatives Hall Tuesday to talk about the stories they covered over the years and the changes in the news industry.
The reporter roundtable was part of a week-long series of gatherings in honor of the bicentennial of the State House.
“Without the press there would be no Democracy,” said Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, chair of the bicentennial committee in opening remarks.
He said it has been 112 years since the legislature paid the press to cover them, and things have certainly changed.
The event included attendance by Fox News reporter Carl Cameron, who covered the State House for WMUR.
Norma Love, longtime reporter for the Associated Press spoke about changes in the business and the need for the press “to cover this place like a blanket.”
She remembered the advent of the fax machine.
“You could get something together and out quickly and as a wire service that was important,” Love said. “That has been replaced by email.”
A poker game or two was held at the New Hampshire Highway Hotel, where many of the legislators stayed before it burned down. A lot of compromise was achieved there.
AP was very much a state organization, Love said, and reporters would be very proud if national AP took a story…It was a big deal, Love said.
Things have changed at AP and news outlets across the state.
Love said too many news decisions now are based on how many clicks the story will get on the Internet.
John DiStaso, now of WMUR-TV and a long-time political reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader, remembered transmitting copy by mimeograph.
It was old home week for a number of reporters and photographers who have retired or moved on such as Jim Cole, Joe Magruder, Bill Boynton, Tom Fahey, Mike Recht, Jerry Little, Garry Rayno, David Tirrell-Wysocki and Dave Solomon, who still works at the Union Leader.
Some well-known veterans couldn’t make it because they are still on the job, like Kevin Landrigan of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Landrigan sent his regrets via email.
“So sorry I’m not able to make the festivities today, have to cover Biden up north,” Landrigan said.