The East Boston Times political coverage this week is atrocious. I try not to constantly harp on the local weekly, but we are in election season and our neighborhood newspaper is NOT doing what it should: presenting the candidates and the issues so that voters can make informed decisions.
First, it is inexcusable that the Times has not mentioned this evening's mayoral debate at the East Boston Social Center. Clearly, the paper is completely in the tank for the incumbent, Tom Menino, who has decided to skip tonight's forum. Hey, that's his right, but how can the local weekly not mention that it is taking place? That is a misuse of the public trust.
Then, in a front-page "story" AND in an editorial-page piece, the Times dismisses the current controversy about deleted city emails that the Globe -- a real newspaper -- broke and has been following. "Ah, we all delete emails," is the Times' argument, ignoring that it is against the law for city employees to do so and that a state judge issued a court order last year ordering the city not to erase electronic communications. One would think that a newspaper would be on the side of those advocating transparency in government and the free flow of information.
And speaking of the front page story, one email that I received today described it as "an obituary about the other three candidates," and that's what it is. The same goes for the story on the District 1 City Council race. "[Christian] Kulikowski has made some good arguments," the Times says, "but with less than a week left...[he] is still virtually unknown to the voters [in East Boston]." Gee, why is he unknown in Eastie? And what are those good arguments? You wouldn't know from reading the local weekly. Kulikowski is running against incumbent Sal LaMattina, and we know that the Times cannot resist fawning all over any of our elected officials.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I personally know LaMattina, State Rep. Carlo Basile and State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, and I do some work for the councilor. I think highly of each of them, but that doesn't mean I think they, or any elected official, should get a free pass from any media organization.)
As an intelligent, engaged citizenry, we need to demand more from the East Boston Times. We should expect objective reporting and coverage of events, people and issues based on how they interest and affect neighborhood residents, rather than the personal likes and dislikes of the newspaper. If we don't insist on this, then we deserve what is getting served up now.
Update (9/19): The Independent Newspaper Group, which owns The East Boston Times and eight other weeklies, has finally upgraded the Times web site, improving it and some of its other sites to the level that the readers of their Revere Journal have enjoyed for more than two years. It's not great, but stories are archived, the print edition can be viewed and comments seem to be allowed. I'm not sure when new issues are published online, but there does seem to be a delay between the printed and online versions.