A Scary Thought: Beacon Hill Without The Globe

First, FT.com reports that if Bain Capital partner and Celts investor Stephen Pagliuca wins The Globe, he’ll focus it on local and (surprise) sports.

Then, the Bost Phoenix looks backward and then forward on the state of state coverage in MA:

“When I started in the State House in March of 1963, there were 35 bodies in the press room,” says Peter Lucas, who covered the building for the Globe, the Phoenix, and the Boston Herald. “Now I walk by, and the room is practically empty. It’s very sad. . . . When was the last time you saw a roll call [covered by the media]? When’s the last time you saw coverage of a debate in the House or Senate?”

A decade or two ago, adds Pam Wilmot, who began representing the good-government watchdog group Common Cause Massachusetts at the State House in 1989, “There were just so many more reporters who covered the State House, in much greater depth. There was a lot of blow-by-blow coverage that helped the public to feel involved, and to get involved.” In contrast, Wilmot argues, today’s coverage tends to be scandal-driven — which is sometimes warranted (e.g., DiMasi), but also exacerbates public contempt for and disinterest in state government as a whole.

But were things really that much better in the (alleged) good old days? Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer ran communications for former governor Mike Dukakis in Dukakis’s first term, and covered state politics for United Press International before that. He longs for the days when the state-budget process was covered in minute detail, in contrast with the broad-stroke treatment used today. But he also recalls trying — and failing — to get the media to cover the de-institutionalization of the state’s mentally ill and mentally disabled populations in the late 1970s. “Peter Goldmark [then the secretary of human services] would say to me, ‘How come we can’t get more coverage?’ ” recalls Widmer. “And I’d say, ‘I know it’s good stuff, and I know it’s important, but it’s kind of boring.’ “

Boring, yes, especially if TMZ is your home page.  So is tax policy.  So is education policy.  So….what?



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