More than 2,200 Twitter followers have been sorry to hear that John O’Connor is leaving The State. But they needn’t worry. He’ll keep Tweeting. He just might have to change his avatar.
John is moving to Tampa to work for NPR. The really cool thing about this is that it’s a new initiative. Not many journalists get to plow new ground. Oh, sure, there are thousands of us blogging and Tweeting away out here. What I mean is, not many of us get to try something new and get a steady paycheck for it.
NPR is hiring people to cover specific issues on the state level. John will be covering education in Florida. The emphasis will be on computer-assisted reporting — lots of number-crunching, to measure what is working and what isn’t. Florida has the reputation nationally of being willing to try anything, and it has: vouchers, charter schools, teacher evaluations (which may or may not be connected to merit pay; I’m not sure), and so forth. Currently, it’s doing all these things under one of the most unpopular governors in the country, so it’s quite a political stew. Although John will be concentrating more on the policy and the numbers than on the politics.
This will mean a lot of people (even more, he hopes) will continue to follow his Tweets, since the nation watches Florida on education policy. He will probably still have something to say occasionally about SC, since he’s been here for eight years and has been at the middle of so much here, covering the State House.
John will supplement his radio reports with a blog, which I will make sure to add to my blogroll as soon as it’s up and running.
He’s really pumped about the new opportunity, not least because the Orioles train in Sarasota (John’s from Baltimore). I look forward to watching him have great success in this cool new endeavor.
In case you wondered — Adam Beam (another of The State’s most aggressive users of social media) is moving from City Hall to cover John’s State House beat. And veteran Clif LeBlanc is taking Adam’s place covering the city.
Oooohhh nooooo! John was so experienced, as is Adam, with his beat—it’s gonna be hard to make up for the loss, especially with all the staffing shortages at the paper to begin with…
but congrats, John. Say hey to Melissa Block for me!
The State to NPR, that sounds about right from reading his articles.
By the way, you can find John — who wasn’t going to let crutches keep him from a story like this — in this photo, which has sort of become iconic among SC media types. I used it as a header on this blog for awhile, and it’s still the background on my Twitter page…
Isn’t it fascinating that while private sector news outlets everywhere are cutting back, providing less and less perspective, NPR is going even DEEPER into coverage of public affairs?