New faces join Statehouse press corps

By Melissa McGrath

Though the number of reporters covering Idaho’s Statehouse is about the same this year as last year, there’s been significant turnover, meaning a number of new faces. Full-time Statehouse reporters who have returned this year include Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review, John Miller of the Associated Press, Jared Hopkins of the Times-News and Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman.

Here is a brief look at some of the new reporters covering the Idaho Legislature this year:

Nick Draper, Idaho Falls Post-Register
Age: 25
Career: Nearly 3 years as a reporter
Before the Legislature: Nick covered city/county government
What’s different about the Legislature? “The process is obviously different. It’s also nice that everyone you need to talk to is usually readily available. If you need to talk with a lawmaker, you just walk upstairs and find them.”

Bill Spence, Lewiston Tribune
Age: 48
Career: 11 years as a reporter
Before the Legislature: Bill covered growth issues in northwest Montana
What’s different about the Legislature? “The Legislative beat is faster paced; also less time to understand an issue or interview people in depth before I have to write a story.”

Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman
Age: 31
Career: 9 years as a reporter
Before the Legislature: Brian is the sports columnist for the Idaho Statesman and is covering the Idaho Legislature during his “off-season”
What’s different about the Legislature? “In sports, much of the reportable action takes place in front of your eyes — on the court, on the field, in practice. At the Legislature, the action you can see — committee meetings, votes — is sometimes a lot less important than the action that you don’t see.”

Melissa McGrath is public information officer for the Idaho state Department of Education, and is the associate representative on the Idaho Press Club board.