The local daily newspaper, the New Bedford Standard-Times, published an article today on convicted sex offenders wanting to attend churches. It’s always interesting to read an article in your local paper on a topic about which you happen to know quite a bit — it gives you a good sense of how good your local paper is. This happened to be a subject about which I know quite a bit — indeed, the reporter interviewed me, quotes me in the article, and went on to interview at least two other people I suggested she call.
Unfortunately, this story revealed to me that the Standard-Times is not a particularly good newspaper. The facts are mostly right, but the story doesn’t really go anywhere. It covers the obvious points:– convicted sex offenders can benefit from participating in a religious community; churches have to protect their children; the situation is difficult. But there’s very little in the way of a specific local story — it’s a collection of loosely-connected generic facts rather than a real story.
I wish I could provide a link to the story so you could read it yourself, but the Substandard-Times requires a paid subscription to view anything except the current news on their site. But the hell with it — you don’t want to bother reading their story anyway; it’s not worth your time. Instead, go and read this really top-notch story on the same topic from the New York Times.
Not that the New York Times is a very good newspaper any more — they’re not. The quality of their writing and editing, like that of most newspapers, has gone down year after year for the past decade or more. And that’s what’s happening at a big national newspaper; the local newspapers are even worse. The local newspapers claim that their readership is declining because everyone gets their news from the Web these days. But that’s not true — we still need local newspapers that report on local news; that’s something you can’t get from the Web. The real reason newspaper readership is dropping is because the quality of the writing and editing is going down.
It’s too bad that local newspapers are so bad, too, because there are plenty of real stories that need to be told. There certainly is plenty of corruption and political intrigue going on in this city that needs courageous reporting. But it has become clear we’re not going to get that kind of reporting from our local newspaper. Oh well. Maybe someone will start a well-written, hard-hitting political blog in this city….