Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Ironic Plea" from the Boston Globe Editorial Board

Adam Reilly has a hard-hitting story in the Boston Phoenix this week about the mainstream media's virtual failure to cover the Boston City Council campaign and election: the run-up to elections, the Globe had helped foster the very apathy [the Globe's editorial] was now lamenting — ignoring some campaigns, skimping on candidate profiles, and generally signaling that the election didn’t matter much.
Reilly calls the Globe's editorial an "ironic plea."  Is this the making of a news room vs. editorial page divide like that in the Wall Street Journal?

Reilly got Brian McGrory, the news editor, on-the-record about his paper's lack of coverage:
“What you saw this year isn’t really Boston politics,” argues McGrory. “We had an incredibly lackluster campaign, with a field of candidates who weren’t campaigning all that hard. This cannot be in any way confused with what would happen in a mayoral election in which we had two candidates offering sharply divergent views on how to run the city.

“The council hasn’t exactly distinguished itself with accomplishments over the last 16 years or so, since [Menino] has been in office,” he continues. “If the council proved to be a major policymaking body — if they had incredible enthusiasm for the campaign — we would have covered that very enthusiastically.”
Those words are pretty similar to what McGrory wrote in 2003 as a metro columnist in the Globe, thereby indicating that it was an affirmative managerial decision not to cover the race.

Reilly lectures McGrory by describing six news stories that the Globe could have run during the election, were he to think slightly deeper about the race:
1) Does Flaherty have the guts to challenge Menino for the mayoralty in 2009?
2) Steve Murphy’s cultivation of Governor Deval Patrick and dalliances with employment in the Patrick administration.
3) What Yoon learned, and didn’t, during a bumpy first term on the Council.
4) What’s lost when Boston doesn’t have an at-large female councilor?
5) Why don’t more African-Americans run for the Council?
6) Who are Greg Glennon and Mark Ciommo, the two candidates for the District Nine seat? (The District Nine councilor represents Allston-Brighton, and could have inordinate influence on Harvard University’s future expansion; Ciommo won the race.)
As I showed previously, in 2007 the Boston Globe ran no news stories about the District 9 candidates, while they ran two such news stories during the 2002 campaign.

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