Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Boston Herald struts its stuff - to good effect

It used to be a little awkward when people I know would question why I read the Boston Herald, (along with the Globe, the New York Times, the Wall St. Journal and more.) The quality was often a real question mark. There were the outrageous tabloid headlines, the Rush Limbaugh-like columnist (you know who he is) and a total bias against anyone who believed in public service. It’s always had some good columnists and was aggressive following agency stories other news media would miss. But of late the Herald has upped its game.

The lively format enhances some solid journalism of the watchdog variety. It was the Herald that blew the whistle on lavish spending and closed-door decision making at the Greenway Conservancy. The paper has unearthed reams of abuses among state workers’ double and triple dipping, collecting pensions and unemployment and, in the case of some supposedly retired police officers, pay for private details. The state Labor Secretary claimed she was unaware that municipalities were upset that the review board she oversees was overturning unemployment denials by local officials. As Margery Eagan said, such lax supervision of how taxpayer money gets spent is why the rest of us can never ever retire! Or so it seems.

Reporter David Wedge has recently turned in stunning coverage of the frequency with which several dozen state workers have wrecked their taxpayer-funded state vehicles, some of them repeatedly. Happily, this prompted the Governor to promise to take the keys away from the worst offenders.

This gritty kind of journalism serves an important purpose. Optimally, it won’t so sour the public on government that it reduces support for much needed public functions. You know, the point about not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I must insert here that I appreciated when the Herald named the Winthrop hockey dad charged with pointing a laser into the mask of the goalie of the team opposing his daughter’s team. Why mince words with such a despicable act?

On the larger issues, the Herald’s effort are being noticed, not just with repeated recognition by the Newseum in D.C. for the quality of its front pages but, more significantly, by being named by Editor & Publisher magazine one of the Top 10 newspapers that “do it right” when it comes to innovation.

Of late, Boston has two very different but distinctive daily news products. We benefit from the competition. We are lucky to live in a two daily newspaper-town.

I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts in the comments section below.


  1. Margie, I missed the fact that the Herald decided to name Laser Dad. Good for them. I can't understand why the Globe decided to protect the reprobate.

  2. Thank you for this post... I feel that both our local papers, the Globe and the Herald, do a terrific job revealing misdeeds by the powerful (the Catholic Church in 2002 and the probation department most recently for just a couple examples by the Globe) and yet so many people I know don't even read the newspaper anymore... when I try to bring up something I've read I have learned not to assume people have already read it.

  3. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It's new and shaky ground. Bringing criminal charges two years after the fact against a politician who did what elected officials have done since the beginning of time (use their office to promote themselves) doesn't seem right to me. As attorney Dan Small said in the Boston Herald (4/4/12), if Cahill is guilty of anything, it’s clumsiness or poor judgment and not a crime. There was no bribery, extortion or personal financial gain of any kind,

    As you noted, the ads did not mention Cahill by name, and according to the much-hyped Cahill emails, this was precisely because his campaign recognized that this might be inappropriate during an election campaign. As Cahill has said, the Lottery was being attacked by the Republican National Committee. So protecting the Lottery as a major source of revenue for cities and towns (around $900 million a year) seems more like a reasonable response than a criminal act like “procurement fraud.” In the end, I think this view will prevail.

    PS: I just looked at annual Lottery revenue figures, and it seems that 2010 was a banner year for local aid distributions, significantly higher sales and distributions than in either than 2009 and 2011. So maybe the advertising paid off.