Another New Jersey journalist to go through the revolving door and enter the world of state government this month: Mike Mathis, a veteran reporter for the Burlington County Times who is now directing internal communications for the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts.
One journalist of outstanding quality and considerable integrity contacted PolitickerNJ.com yesterday with an objection to the use of the revolving door moniker when describing the exodus of reporters to government jobs, saying that very few of his brethren return to the fourth estate after they leave. “From my perspective, for the door to revolve, you have to be able to go around and around,” the journalist wrote. “And when reporters leave, my sense is that 99 percent of the time the door swings only one way: out.”
PolitickerNJ.com views the revolving door as a movement in and out, not just in and out and in. The same way the press refers to ex-legislators who take lobbying jobs as going through a revolving door – most of the time, when a public official leaves to enter the world of lobbying, or even for a pension-boosting job, they never return to elected office. There are some exceptions: Bill Baroni and Jennifer Beck were staffers who became lobbyists before they won election to the Legislature. And Bob Comstock went from Associate Editor of The Record to Communications Director for Governor Brendan Byrne and then returned to The Record as Executive Editor – albeit in the 1970’s.
So here’s our question of the day: when reporters leaves their newspapers to work for the people they once covered, are they going through a revolving door – the same kind of door public officials seem to pass through when they trade their elected offices for more lucrative ones in the private sector – or are journalists simply going through a single door that slams shut behind them?