Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Welcome to the news, Telegram & Gazette

The Telegram & Gazette ran an article on the $410 billion appropriations bill this morning, outlining those items earmarked for North Central Massachusetts.

Readers of this blog were tipped off to this list five days ago.

As we noted once before, as the T&G has begun to shrink they have started to publish items when they get around to it, without relation to when the news actually happened.

Sunday, T&G columnist Dianne Williamson (who is fantastic, by the way...her column is easily the best part of the paper) wrote a spirited defense of the newspaper business in general and the T&G specifically. In her column, she compared news reporters to bloggers:
Anyone can become a blogger and some are better than others, but they’ll never replace reporters trained to report the news fairly and objectively. Call me elitist, but some voices are simply more credible than others. As a rule, people who get paid to report on human events are more skilled than those who do it for fun.
Perhaps there is some merit in that--although I was paid to be a reporter in a previous life so maybe I am an exception to the rule--but is the newspaper that regurgitates a press release from Congressman John Olver more credible that the blogger who spends three hours slogging through the actual bill? Is the newspaper that publishes the article on March 2 more credible than the blog that publishes the same information on February 26?

Perhaps. But if it is, it's credibility comes from it's reputation and it's longevity. For obvious reasons, community bloggers weren't an option 10 or 20 or 100 years ago. But as the T&G shrinks, it just doesn't have the ability to cover any but the most pressing stories with the kind of depth or immediacy that it could provide 30 years ago when it was publishing two robust dailies, and when the papers that are now no more than inserts--the Clinton Item, for example--also published every day.

I am more apt to get a sense of what is going on in certain communities by reading Wormtown Taxi or Save Fitchburg than I am by reading the T&G. That isn't to say that the T&G isn't important, but they no longer have the resources to cover the region comprehensively. Local bloggers are the only way to fill in the gaps.

And in some cases, bloggers are the only way to get news when it happens, not when the T&G gets around to it.

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