Best wishes to New Bedford Light, a nonprofit startup that is aiming to provide in-depth journalism in a city whose legacy newspaper, The Standard-Times, has been gutted by Gannett. Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth magazine reports. (MassINC chair Greg Torres, which publishes CommonWealth, is involved.)
The Light hasn’t launched yet, but it’s had a Facebook page for several months. I hope the project succeeds, but I’m a little bit skeptical of the model. Mohl writes:
Barbara Roessner, the founding editor, lives in Westport and is a former managing editor of the Hartford Courant. Her initial plan calls for producing one major in-depth piece of journalism each week; the focus will be on providing context and insight, she said, not breaking news or high school sports.
I wonder if it might make more sense to make the Light essential to everyone right from the start by providing basic accountability journalism — city council, school committee, police, development and the like. Mohl does describe the once-a-week pace as the “initial” plan; maybe that will evolve into more comprehensive coverage as the project develops. My advice would be to cover the everyday details of city life and leave the suburbs to The Standard-Times. The logo, though, references “Greater New Bedford,” which suggests they’re looking beyond the city.
I was also interested to see that the group behind the Light approached Gannett about selling The Standard-Times and was turned down. Maybe the chain’s executives will come to regret their decision. More likely they’ve calculated that there are a few more dollars they can squeeze out.