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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

City Weakly

I have a great idea for the Boston Globe as it looks to consolidate sections to save paper and money.

Get rid of City Weekly.

Week after week, readers in Boston and its neighborhoods -- as well as Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville -- are regaled with squishy soft features. Many, such as this week's ode to panhandling -- leave me shaking my head. Reading between the lines, the story probably sprang from a couple of encounters experienced by reporter Ric Kahn. The sidebar, Basic Begging 101, well, what can you say.

If I were the editor, I would still play the feature about mothers who have lost their children to jail or murder on the section front. It does examine an issue that is all too real to women in Boston's neighborhoods. And a soft story about a street performer on the verge of breaking out makes a nice counterpoint.

But where is the NEWS in the panhandling story -- or in City Weekly for that matter. There is one page for a collection of shorts on city neighborhoods and two pages to handle the three neighboring communities.

The section's regional cousins still manage "hard" news, despite going to press twice a week instead of the City section's one and done. Today, Globe Northwest is the meatiest -- with West and South not far behind.

And, in this observer's view, this is a regular occurrence. I simply can't recall the last time there was a City Weekly Page One story that I had to read. As a resident of one of those three surrounding communities, I wonder why they even bother to check in.

Please don't tell me it's for lack for news. As the other regional sections prove, there is plenty of opportunity to localize state and national stories -- like the impact the faltering economy and state cuts is going to have on communities. It's a staple of community journalism -- something these sections are supposed to practice.

And as the Globe continues to shrink, slice and dice City & Region or Metro or whatever the banner will read next week, does it really make sense to squander this valuable space? Surely there are real issues affecting Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline that can be examined?

Perhaps even more pathetic in this week's city readers' menu is the fact the best local story is the Globe Magazine, a yarn about police, a mother and baby and local bloggers.

So how about turning this section into the equal of its suburban counterparts? Run it twice a week and put some real effort into reporting news.

Hyperlocal
anyone? It may turn out poorly, but right now City Weekly is already a flop that should join Sidekick in oblivion.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Chris Rich said...

Aah the Glob has long been called the nations best lousy newspaper or its worst good one and it is slowly dying as web news feeds kill it. I can set up my google news feed to send me nearly anything.

At least it isn't the Hairoil which has been bad since it was the Wretched American.

News papers increasingly lose their reason to exist and it doesn't help that they've generally horrific corporate shills for the Bush Administration and oligarchy for more than a decade.

Craigslist is eating their classified lunch and they've mainly wallowed in infotainment or aditorial drivel for so long that avid seekers of actual news end up at Reuters, the BBC, blog sites like 528.com or firedoglake and Al Giordano's the Field, beats most election coverage one finds in conventional print.

The Glob has made itself doggedly irrelevant as years pass like some dodgy relative who won't shut up about their long gone glory.

October 19, 2008 12:07 PM  
Blogger Adam Gaffin said...

Yep, that magazine piece was very interesting and well done, except:

It buries the lede!

You don't learn until near the bottom that the officer got a citation - and had to take a driver's ed class - because of the accident. In the context of a magazine article, it fits fine near the end. But this was a case that elicited considerable online discussion - and criticism of the Globe. Why wasn't the outcome published as a news story earlier?

As for City Weekly, I actually like the idea of a magazine-ish section for Boston, given that the magazine itself often drones on endlessly about Stuff I Can't Afford to Buy (the above article excepted, of course). More local news is good, but shouldn't that be in the metro section?

October 19, 2008 12:32 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Magazine stories are allowed to bury leads :-)

I hadn't followed the initial JP story so I wasn't aware of that rather important piece of information. Definitely markdown for Abel on that score.

But I actually enjoyed reading something local in the magazine rather than seeing it as the weekly version of Boston Magazine and its gimmicks.

And yep, City & Region, Metro & Region or Metro (or Horace) is the place for local stuff and the Globe has been shrinking it mercilessly. The new format will no doubt continue that trend as it shares space with Business of Health/Science or whatever.

But failing that, why not upgrade City Weekly to match its regional cousins?

October 19, 2008 2:24 PM  
Blogger EricDoberman said...

Personally I find the worst offender (of many) in the Globe's Sunday edition to be the seemingly monthly "Your Home" features, which are published as substitutes for the ordinary (and sometimes quite good) Boston Globe Magazine.

I could also do without Jeff Jacoby's sappy open letters to his kid and Derrick Z. Jackson's repetitious tirades about soda pop on the daily opinion page, which is under-edited to say the least.

The paper really is a pale ghost of its former self. RIP Will McDonough and Tom Winship.

Disclosure:
I was featured in a recent City Weekly article on the topic of dive bars in Somerville.

October 19, 2008 9:19 PM  

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