The opposite of hyperlocal journalism

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The Chronicle‘s Austin bureau chief must have skipped town early to celebrate New Year’s. Or maybe he’s utterly consumed writing his weekend editorial column.

Otherwise, one wonders why the Chronicle had to rely on AP reporting on the fallout over a story broken by the Dallas Morning News yesterday.

One also wonders why there wasn’t some adult editorial supervision of this Austin dispatch from R.G. Ratcliffe announcing that House Speaker Tom Craddick (R) has replaced press secretary Bob Richter:

“I want to thank Bob for his continued dedication and hard work,” Craddick said in the release. “It has been a pleasure working with him.”

Richter described Craddick as a “good guy.”

Richter said he is supposed to talk to someone next week about a possible new job.

He’s supposed to talk to some guy sometime about some job or something? Nice of the Chron to clear that up!

Then there’s this:

As Richter’s replacement, Craddick hired Heather Tindall, who has been the spokeswoman for the scandal-plagued Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Craddick is Richter’s replacement?

There’s really no excuse for this sort of copy to make its way into the newspaper.

The Chronicle has invested tons of money redesigning its type and layout, and has brought in a new Washington chief who surely didn’t come cheaply to a bloated D.C. bureau. Meanwhile, it continues to do a poor job covering local stories (being scooped at least twice by the Dallas newspaper in the last three months on stories it should have owned), and a mediocre job with its Austin coverage.

Surely Jack Sweeney and Jeff Cohen can’t believe that anyone would turn to the Chronicle for coverage of Washington politics. And surely nobody but MeMo believes that young readers are going to pick up the rag because the Features section is now identified by a giant * and has lots of skin on its pages. But since there is some evidence the Chronicle brain trust (don’t snicker) actually does believe these things, here’s a hint for them: Go Local! Cover this city. Cover this state. Bring in some fresh writers who revel in things Texan. Concentrate your resources on doing Houston and Texas better than any other media source in this state.

Or continue to lose readers and relevance.

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX