The Providence Journal’s healthcare reporter, Jennifer Bogdan, is taking a post next month as deputy communications director for Governor Gina Raimondo.
Bogdan is joining the governor's communications staff amid the depature of Catherine Rolfe, who is taking a role with Plan International USA, an international NGO based in Warwick. Bodgan starts in the new role February 12.
That follows a move by the paper’s economic-development reporter, Kate Bramson, to become policy director for the state Senate.
Bogdan came to the ProJo, joining the Statehouse bureau, in 2014. She was briefly reassigned last May to Providence City Hall, and then to the healthcare beat.
Raimondo's communications director, Mike Raia, offered this comment on Bodgan's job: "In this newly created role, Jenn will work closely with me on the Governor’s and the Administration’s message development and will be responsible for writing and editing the Governor’s talking points, drafting op-eds, blog posts and other written material coming out of our office. Jenn is a subject matter expert on Rhode Island’s social service agencies and will help us strengthen our communication with Rhode Islanders who count on the services our agencies provide. I’m personally and professionally excited to work with Jenn in this new capacity."
State Republican Chairman Brandon Bell raised a concern about how the job change comes after Bodgan has reported on problems with the state Department of Children, Youth and Families.
"[A]fter Raimondo has taken months of bipartisan criticism for her lack of attention to the DCYF’s problems following Bogdan’s reports, the timing of her decision to hire Bogdan raises serious questions," Bell said in a statement. "Did Raimondo decide to hire her in hopes of quashing the DCYF scandal and reducing the Providence Journal’s investigation into her administration’s mismanagement of the DCYF?”
Reporter John Hill, president of the Providence Newspaper Guild, attributed the recent turnover to how ProJo reporters have not received raises since 2008, and how individual reporters are now being asked to do the work once done by many people. ProJo staffers are set to get a small increase later this year thanks to a recent contract agreement.
ProJo Executive Editor Alan Rosenberg did not directly address the reason for the recent turnover at the newspaper. In an email, he said, "Jennifer has made significant contributions to our award-winning coverage of medical marijuana and to our focus on DCYF, which led directly to the Rhode Island Foundation giving the agency a grant to improve its training of foster families. I wish her well in her future endeavors."
"However, I'm confident that G. Wayne Miller will provide us outstanding coverage of healthcare going forward. He's an award-winning reporter whose books include 'Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights Into How You Think;' 'The Work of Human Hands: Hardy Hendren and Surgical Wonder at Children's Hospital,' 'The Xeno Chronicles: Two Years on the Frontier of Medicine Inside Harvard's Transplant Research Lab,' and "King of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery.' "
"Wayne is well qualified to carry our coverage of healthcare forward in exciting new directions, Rosenberg said.
The Journal has faced the same challenge as many newspapers in the Internet age. It now has fewer than 20 reporters, a small fraction of the number it had 20 years ago.