President’s column: Idaho, where local news is going strong

By Betsy Z. Russell

After nearly 27 years with The Spokesman-Review – a fine newspaper – I never thought I’d switch at this point in my career. But then the Idaho Press came along. In May, I started as the new Boise bureau chief for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group, a family-owned company that in addition to the longstanding Canyon County daily (formerly the Idaho Press-Tribune), also owns the Post Register in Idaho Falls, the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, and several other smaller papers throughout southern Idaho.

It is so exciting to be part of a newspaper expansion in this day and age! We are expanding into Ada County, and I have bright and talented colleagues to work with, including three new Ada County reporters: Boise city hall reporter Margaret Carmel, Ada County reporter Xavier Ward, and Ada County cops and courts reporter Tommy Simmons. There are other additions as well – the Idaho Press recently hired Jeanne Huff its new community engagement editor, Brian Myrick as its new photo editor, and there’s more.

Unlike most of the country, which has seen long-cherished local newspapers fade and close, we here in Ada County have a good old-fashioned newspaper war on our hands, as the Idaho Press moves into direct competition with its longtime Ada County neighbor, the Idaho Statesman. The two papers are headed in different directions, with the Statesman focused on its digital product and the Idaho Press emphasizing affordable home delivery of our print product. I hope the real winners are the people in Ada County, who now have more choices for their local news.

As for me, my job really hasn’t changed much – I’m still covering state government and politics in Boise, and writing the Eye on Boise blog, as I have since 2004, now with a new web address: www.idahopress.com/eyeonboise. Check us out! And let’s all celebrate the fact that here in Idaho, local journalism still matters – so much that it’s not scaling back, but growing.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief for the Idaho Press, and is the president of the Idaho Press Club.