Meet Anne Larner, one of a rising tide of local news entrepreneurs in the Boston suburbs

Anne Larner

On this week’s “What Works” podcast, Ellen and I talk with Anne Larner, a civic leader in Newton, Massachusetts, a city of nearly 90,000 people on the border of Boston. Anne is on the board of directors of The Newton Beacon, an independent nonprofit news outlet covering Newton.

Anne has a long track record of civic engagement in Newton and in Massachusetts. She moved to Newton in 1973 and has served on the School Committee, the Newton League of Women Voters, and has been a PTO president, among many roles. She also served 15 years at the MBTA Advisory Board, a public watchdog agency.

Newton is a microcosm of what’s happening in local news all over the country. Years ago, Newton had four local newspapers: The Newton Times, the Graphic, the Tribune and the Tab. But Gannett shut down a number of Massachusetts newspapers last year, including the print weekly, the Newton Tab. The Gannett digital site, Wicked Local, is still up and running. But content is regional.

Ellen has a Quick Take on MLK50, the award-winning Memphis newsroom that focuses on poverty, power and justice. They’ve received two major philanthropic grants that allow them to build for the future. And speaking of MLK50, executive editor Adrienne Johnson Martin was here at Northeastern ahead of Martin Luther King Day to give a talk on their work in Memphis. We’ll feature some interviews from that by our colleague Dakotah Kennedy.

I’ve got news about the Rebuild Local News Coalition, a new nonprofit organization that’s advocating for solutions to the local news crisis. But wait. It’s not new. And the solutions that it’s proposing aren’t new, either. We talked with the co-founder of the coalition, Steven Waldman, last summer, and our conversation is worth a listen if you missed it earler. Still, this is good news, which I explain.

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Reaching skyward

Boston College Law School, Tuesday afternoon.

Click on image for a larger view.

Social media get results

Doug Haslam explains how a tweet about an icy sidewalk in Newton made its way to the Newton Tab’s Wicked Local site and then to the mayor’s office. The end result: no more icy sidewalk.

Picturing a $200 million high school

Those of you with good memories may recall that, last summer, Newton Mayor David Cohen barred the press from touring the city’s brand-new, $191 million Newton North High School. Later, he relented and allowed a reporter to take a look — but not a photographer.

Well, yesterday, as his time in office winds down to its final weeks, Cohen at long last allowed full media access to the school. The Newton Tab was even allowed to shoot a video.

Though it’s certainly positive that the press was finally able to take pictures, there was never any excuse for Cohen’s censorious behavior. The public deserved to see long before now what it was getting for the nearly $200 million it paid in tax money, either directly (through local property taxes) or indirectly (via state assistance).

Correction TK?

The Newton Tab blog says that a Boston Globe reporter may have quoted the wrong Baker when he wrote a story about the arrest of a Newton firefighter on heroin-possession charges. Greg Reibman, who’s been following this for most of the day, links to all the relevant background.

Newton Board of Alderman president Lisle Baker was originally quoted as saying that the arrest pointed to the need for mandatory drug testing of public-safety workers. But the Globe then removed the quote, at least from its online story. Baker insists he never spoke with the Globe. Supposedly a correction is going to appear tomorrow.

Good thing the Newton Fire Department is otherwise quiet. Oh, wait. A bag of pot was found inside the 62-year-old fire chief’s car. The chief says he has no idea of how it got there.

Saturday morning update: Here’s the correction. The Globe did reach the wrong Baker. I’m scratching my head. How is it that Mr. Wrong provided exactly the sort of quotes you might have expected from Mr. Right?