Meg Heckman

On the latest What Works podcast, Ellen and I talk with Meg Heckman, a colleague of ours at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. Meg is an associate professor and author who’s had a long career as a journalist. She spent more than a decade as a reporter and, later, the digital editor at the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, where she developed a fascination with presidential politics, a passion for local news and an appreciation for cars with four-wheel drive.

Her book, “Political Godmother: Nackey Scripps Loeb and the Newspaper That Shook the Republican Party,” documents the lasting impact of New Hampshire publisher and conservative activist Nackey Loeb. Loeb and her husband, the right-wing provocateur William Loeb, helped shape the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire presidential primary for many decades at their newspaper, the Manchester Union Leader. As you’ll hear, Heckman draws a straight line from Nackey Loeb’s support of Republican Patrick Buchanan in 1992 to the rise of Donald Trump a generation later.

In Quick Takes, Ellen calls attention to a piece in ProPublica by journalist Dan Golden about his history working for the local daily in Springfield, Massachusetts. Turns out the good-old-days in newspapering weren’t all good. Golden cautions against recreating them. ProPublica, a nonprofit, allows other outlets to republish its work, so you’ll find Golden’s essay on the What Works website.

I take a look back at an example of how diligent local news reporting can have an enormous impact nearly 45 years after the fact. Recently the EPA proposed a ban on trichloroethylene, an industrial solvent that’s been linked to leukemia, birth defects and other health problems. The road to that ban began in Woburn, Massachusetts, in 1979, with a super-smart young reporter I had the honor of working with. I wrote about it for The Boston Phoenix back in 1998.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

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