By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Karen Bordeleau

Two daily newspapers in Rhode Island will merge

Photo (cc) 2023 by Dan Kennedy

Sad news coming out of Rhode Island, where two daily papers are being merged into one. Ian Donnis of The Public’s Radio reports that The Call of Woonsocket and The Times of Pawtucket will become The Blackstone Valley Call & Times as of Nov. 1. “Our commitment to being a daily news provider for Northern Rhode Island has not changed,” according to a story Donnis cited that was on the front page of The Call. The article referenced “current business trends and increases in printing costs” as the reasons behind the merger.

In addition, The Call’s Sunday edition will be discontinued, to be replaced with a Saturday weekend edition in the merged paper. And get this: Donnis writes, “Between them, The Call and The Times have two news reporters, two sports reporters and a photographer.” Now that is small. The papers are owned by Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers, which acquired them in 2007.

As I’ve written here before, I was a Northeastern co-op student at The Call from 1976-’78, working full-time for about a year in three- and six-month stints. The way co-op works is that you’re replaced by another student when the semester ends and it’s time to return to school. I alternated with Karen Bordeleau, a future executive editor at The Providence Journal who’s now at Arizona State University.

The Call was excellent, a place where I learned a lot under great mentorship. It’s sad to see what’s become of the paper, as well as The Times, but Woonsocket and Pawtucket are economically depressed cities, and they no longer reach out into the more affluent suburbs to the extent that they did at one time. According to U.S. Census data, the median household income in Pawtucket is $56,427, and in Woonsocket it’s $48,822. Both of those figures are well below the state median of $74,489.

In the mid-’70s, The Call covered what we referred to as “Call Country,” which comprised more than a dozen communities in northern Rhode Island and southern Worcester County. I don’t know what the circulation area is today. Nor do I know how many paid subscribers the papers have because the Alliance for Audited Media has ended instant access to those numbers.

Donnis doesn’t mention any layoffs, and it’s hard to see how they could get much smaller. I just hope the Call & Times will be able to at least do as good a job of serving their communities as the two separate papers do now.

Note: Ian has posted a correction on the ownership of the two papers, and I’ve updated this post accordingly.

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Mike Donoghue leaves First Amendment group’s board after dispute over church work

Mike Donoghue

Longtime Vermont journalist Mike Donoghue has resigned under pressure as vice president of the New England First Amendment Coalition’s board, according to Lola Duffert of the nonprofit news organization VTDigger. The issue was his ongoing involvement in helping the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington deal with issues of sexual abuse by priests.

Donoghue, who retired several years ago after a decades-long career at the Burlington Free Press, is a member of a lay committee appointed by the Catholic Church “to investigate the church’s personnel files and release the names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse,” Duffert wrote.

Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition (NEFAC), told VTDigger that NEFAC was under the impression that Donoghue’s service on the church committee would wrap up in 2019. After it became clear that Donoghue had continued to work on church business, the NEFAC board concluded that Donoghue had to go.

Donoghue told VTDigger in a written statement that NEFAC misunderstood the committee’s purpose, saying it “was never given the job of determining what church records would be disclosed to the public.”

I’ve got all kinds of entangling alliances here. Donoghue is a friendly acquaintance who I interviewed for my book “The Return of the Moguls.” I’m also friendly with Silverman and NEFAC president Karen Bordeleau, a former editor of the Providence Journal, who — believe it or not — shared the same Northeastern co-op job with me at The Call of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, in the 1970s. I occasionally speak at NEFAC events.

In my experience, these are all smart, ethical journalists who are trying to do the right thing. Unfortuately, the difference in their perspectives proved to be too much to overcome.

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