Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Losing a civic force

The Boston Globe did a seven-part series last week called, "Failing our athletes: The sad state of sports in Boston Public Schools." It was an in-depth look at an issue from many sides with dozens of interviews, several sidebars and online video clips. Back in the fall there was an investigative series called "Unhealthy System," about Partners HealthCare's impact on health care in Massachusetts, and earlier last year there was the definitive exploration of the life of Ted Kennedy in a week-long series.

This is the kind of journalism that we're seeing less of these days, as newspapers -- especially big-city dailies -- are forced to tighten their belts, laying off staff, closing bureaus and shrinking their mission. Technology is forever changing the world in many ways, and the relative merits of it all can be debated, but I think it's clear that we are seeing, and will continue to see, less reporting of important stories with ample resources as only a large, stable newspaper can do.

Some of the Globe's most important work was the series and subsequent reporting on the Catholic Church abuse scandal. Seven years ago the paper pulled back the cloak on the sins of Cardinal Law and others. You can still see the massive amount of stories, images, documents and video that relate to the story on Boston.com. That kind of commitment to an issue and that kind of civic responsibility is something that only a newspaper possesses.

When the Globe dies we are going to lose all that -- and be worse off for it.

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