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.

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