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Tag: Woonsocket Call

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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Calling on The Call

From 1976 to ’78, I was a Northeastern co-op student at The Woonsocket Call in Rhode Island, working full-time for about a year in three- and six-month stints. It was a great place to learn how to be a reporter. Managing editor Bill Crouse, city editor Ed Berman and assistant city editor Jim Anagnostos (whose family published The Hellenic Chronicle in Boston) were all first-rate journalists, and the Palmer family, who owned the paper, took their responsibilities seriously.

Late Monday afternoon, I was driving home from the Providence area and decided on a whim to head up Route 146 to see what The Call’s building and the city looked like these days. The building, at 75 Main St., was apparently closed during COVID and has not been reopened. But the outside was very much as I remembered it.

I don’t recall anyone ever mentioning Samuel S. Foss, who was, according to the plaque in the third photo, the “Father of Woonsocket Journalism.” But in the second photo you can just make out that the paper’s headquarters, built in 1922, was known as the Buell Building. According to Wikipedia, The Call was founded in 1892 by Samuel E. Hudson and Andrew J. McConnell, and among their descendants was Buell W. Hudson.

Today the paper is owned by RISN Operations, a small chain that was launched in Rhode Island in 2007 and that today operates eight small dailies across the country as well as a number of weeklies.

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