Staff profile: Ohio Statehouse reporter Laura Bischoff enlightens, roots out corruption

USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau reporter Laura Bischoff
USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau reporter Laura Bischoff

Meet Laura Bischoff

I work for the USA TODAY Network Ohio bureau, which is a fancy way of saying the statehouse news team. I cover state government, including prisons, pensions, the Ohio Supreme Court and public corruption cases. I joined our team three years ago but previously worked for another Ohio paper covering the same issues for 20 years.

I grew up in Michigan and started my journalism career at The Flint Journal. I moved to Ohio in 1995 and to Columbus in 2001.

Why I became a journalist

In junior high school, we had a newsletter called the St. Regis Bugle. I found it exciting that working on the Bugle meant I could get out of the classroom, run around school and ask nosy questions of powerful people — the nuns. When I found out I could do this as a paid job, I knew what I wanted to do.

I served as editor of my high school yearbook and joined the staff of The Michigan Daily while at the University of Michigan. One of my first bylines involved covering a sorority house fire that happened around the corner from my house.

Initially, I got a kick out of asking nosy questions, covering breaking news and being "in the know" all the time. As I advanced in my career, I came to appreciate the privileges and opportunities being a journalist offers. We get to write the first draft of history, hold powerful people to account, amplify the voices of the powerless and talk to people from all walks of life.

Stories that have had the biggest impact on me

My career has taken me to national political conventions, dozens of prisons, disaster sites including New York after 9/11, inside farms and factories, and far too many boring legislative sessions at the Ohio Statehouse. I've written about Ohio's child marriage laws, broke stories on the deputy state treasurer's bribery scheme, and investigated Ohio's youth prison system.

But the biggest story of my career has been the House Bill 6 public corruption case. Everything about it has been eye-popping: $61 million in bribes for a $1.3 billion bailout, 4.5 million consumers impacted, a former Ohio House speaker removed, tried and convicted, two defendants dead by suicide, and more developments yet to come.

The biggest challenge I face as a journalist

I just don't have enough time to report and write every story I'd like to do.

What I like to do in my free time

I like to run, bike, kayak, do yoga and spend time with my family. My husband and I also like vacations that involve hiking, camping and drinking strong coffee and good beer.

Favorite Columbus tradition

Flying the M flag during the college football season.

Why journalism matters

Good journalism is essential to a healthy democracy but distrust in the media is a serious problem. It means more people are getting duped by misinformation, disinformation and bad actors. I like to say the best antidote to public corruption is reading newspapers. Our coverage will help you become an informed voter, and that will lead to a stronger democracy.

Laura Bischoff is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Meet USA TODAY Network Ohio bureau reporter Laura Bischoff