Why newspapers are still important

In case you missed it, there were two great pieces of political analysis in the Richmond Times Dispatch this weekend.

First, reporters Markus Schmidt and Olympia Meola noted how Eric Cantor's defeat, along with Frank Wolf's retirement, will have consequences for Virginia's influence in national government. Voters in a district don't often think of the big picture of national politics, even for national elections. And Cantor was defeated in part because he was perceived as such a Washington insider. But the former Majority Leader could have made the argument that his long tenure and connections in Washington were good for Virginia; in fact, Thad Cochran just made that very case in his come-from-behind primary victory in Mississippi.

And then Jim Nolan also has a piece on how retiring state legislators are repaid for their service with plum state jobs (and the resulting pension benefits). The idea behind VA's low salary and short sessions is to keep the legislature from becoming a full-time job. But this perversely raises the incentives to take a bigger reward, particularly at the end of your career. Plus it creates incentives to jump ship at a time that might be bad for your party. Nolan here tells a good story about unintended consequences.

So the RTD helps explain two important and complicated issues: the intersection of national and local politics, and some of the problems inherent in having a part-time state legislature. Print may be dying (or at least not doing very well), but here's some examples of why that's a bad thing.