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Education Reporter Trading Ink Stains for TV Lights (and Web Site)

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A well-regarded education reporter is making the switch from the newspaper to a TV station Web site, with occasional on-air appearances in her future.

Antoinette "Toni" Konz, who has covered the Jefferson County, Ky., school system for the last seven-and-a-half years for the Louisville Courier-Journal, is moving to a local TV station in that city, WDRB.

"As of today, I no longer work for the Courier-Journal," Konz said in an essay on the TV station's site. "I have read and re-read that sentence, but it's still hard for me to imagine my life outside of the newspaper business—particularly since I have dedicated so much effort and spent such little time doing anything else."

"But in the end, that is exactly what helped me reach my decision," she said.

Her parents were shocked, Konz said, since newspapers were her "dream job" since she was a child. 

"I think part of my parents' shock came from the fact that I have spared them the agonizing details—what it was like to sit through rounds of furloughs, layoffs and buyouts—that have consumed the newspaper business here and across the country over the past few years," Konz wrote. "Seeing the empty desks of my departed colleagues was a constant reminder of what was lost."

Last month, the Gannett Co.-owned daily in Louisville laid off its managing editor and several other top editors.

Instead of laughter in the newsroom, "you are shedding lots of tears," Konz wrote. "And the stress of worrying about what will happen next becomes too much to handle."

Konz says that at WDRB, she will be doing the same thing she's been doing: visiting schools and covering school board meetings, including by live-tweeting them. (I wrote here about Konz in May after she made a presentation at the Education Writers Association meeting about the use of Twitter as a reporter.)

Her Twitter account remains the same: @tkonz.

In a release, WDRB says Konz will work with three other Web journalists on its team and will make occasional on-air appearances.

Given how tough the environment for newspapers is, I wonder how many education reporters have landed at TV and radio stations, whether as on-air reporters or primarily writing for Web sites. 

Before going to Louisville, Konz worked for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American. It was at the Hattiesburg paper where Konz was involved in an incident during a 2004 speech at a Mississippi high school by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, when a federal marshal guarding the justice demanded that Konz and an AP reporter turn over the tapes from their tape recorders. 

The reporters were taping the speech to help provide accurate quotes for their stories, and no one had made the announcement (typical for a Scalia appearance) that recording was not permitted. Scalia later sent Konz a letter of apology, saying there had been miscommunication and that he did not support the marshal seizing the tape. Konz's press pass and the letter from Scalia are featured in an exhibit at the Newseum in Washington.

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