Friday, June 6, 2014

Speaking of local news coverage

I started live-blogging Worcester School Committee meetings in 2008, because the Telegram and Gazette, while always there and always writing, could only devote so much space to a meeting. From my perspective, 'though still limited, recently the coverage of meetings beyond Worcester (and beyond Council) has improved.
That's why the loss this week of 1/5 of their staff, and the conclusion drawn by WBUR on what it will mean, really hits home:
In a press release gussied it up to look like a news story, Redding said, “This will not impact our news coverage in any way.” 
This is like your favorite local restaurant laying off a fifth of its wait staff and reassuring you service won’t be affected in the least.
Of course the layoffs at the Telegram will “impact” the paper’s news coverage significantly and in the most basic way: There will be far less quality local news in the Worcester Telegram.
 I quoted Madison earlier this week, because it's no exaggeration to say that our government was put together with newspapers in mind. A free press is in the First Amendment; the power of the press was brought to bear in the times leading up to the American Revolution, and those who then went on to set up the government clearly saw the press as a necessary balance to government power. Clearly that's something we need on a national level, but for any local government to lack a press check on what they do weakens the ways in which it answers to the people it serves. We need press not only to report on who says what and votes which way, but to ask why and what for.
I am very, very concerned about this, not only for Worcester, but for our surrounding communities.

1 comment:

Jim Gonyea said...

Back when I was on the Leicester School Committee I would often get home from a meeting and then write up my notes as a blog post. There is very little to no coverage in the Leicester. The Spencer New Leader sometimes would cover a meeting, but usually only the yearly budget review. The Telegram never was present and any article that would get written would usually be done by someone having watched on cable access TV. So I wrote my own articles.