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Layoffs at ABC Stations Eliminate Last Political Reporters in San Francisco Bay Area

Political reporting in Northern California recently took a hit after ABC closed its Sacramento bureau and laid off bureau chief Nannette Miranda along with KGO political reporter Mark Matthews.

Miranda provided the ABC owned stations in Los Angeles (KABC), Fresno (KFSN) and San Francisco Bay Area (KGO) political and regional coverage from the state’s Capitol while Matthews was the lone political reporter left in the San Francisco Bay Area market.

Randy Shandobil, former political reporter for FOX affiliate KTVU, wrote in SFGate.com yesterday that after veteran political reporter Hank Plante retired from CBS owned KPIX in 2010 and Kevin Riggs left Sacramento NBC affiliate KCRA, the craft of reporting about politics in Northern California has gone the way of the dinosaur. Shandobil said when he told Plante about the latest layoffs, Plante said, “think of all the stories not being told.”

Imagine the temptation to speed if there was no highway patrol. The word is out among politicians, consultants and lobbyists: the cat’s away.

“I’m really sad to go and worried that fewer media outlets are covering the State Capitol,” Miranda told media blogger Matthews Keys last week after Keys confirmed the Sacramento Bureau had been closed. “Unchecked government means politicians will try to do things they shouldn’t.”

The stations will still cover political issues with general assignment reporters and analysts. NBC owned KNTV has political consultant Larry Gersten on set every week. Shandobil worries stations are looking at the bottom line rather than the public interest. “Yet another explanation for the vanishing breed: political reporters tend to be veterans,” writes Shandobil. “Replacing them with younger, less experienced reporters leads to cost savings.”

Miranda and Matthews had been with KGO since 2003. Before coming to KGO, Matthews worked in San Diego, CA. Miranda, who retweeted Shandobil’s column, had previously worked in Shreveport, LA, Albuquerque, NM, and Tampa, FL.

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