Adios, Consumer Beat?

At least one DQM reader is bummed out about the disappearance of the Globe's Consumer Beat column, which shut down when Bruce Mohl decamped to edit CommonWealth:

Voices of consumer advocacy are rapidly declining in the Bay State. With the occasional exception of some of Jay Fitzgerald's business pieces at the Herald, there's very little coverage at the major dailies of the ins and outs of how issues like auto insurance deregulation, health insurance reform, the secondary ticket market, et. al., affect the individual customers. Mohl's column may have been the last major one left.  Will it continue, or has that ship sailed?

From what Globe business editor Shirley Leung tells me, I'd say the answer is: don't hold your breath waiting for the column's return.

"I can't discuss staffing details, but will say that Bruce Mohl was a terrific Consumer Beat reporter and we miss him," Leung says. " Nonetheless, we in the business section throughout the paper continue to do consumer coverage. Look at today's paper, where we discuss what the Fed rate cut means for readers. And metro reporter Keith O'Brien recently did a story on Super Bowl ticket prices, a subject near and dear to Bruce's heart. So we continue to cover consumer issues."

After parsing Leung's comments, and then looking at the Consumer Beat archives, one thing stands out. While the first story Leung cites deals with a tremendously important subject, it's most useful for people who'll be engaging in major financial transactions, like buying a house or car. The second story, meanwhile, discusses an investment that precious few of us can make.

Both represent a contrast with Mohl's work, which routinely discussed how anyone--including people living paycheck to paycheck--could be a savvier consumer. Let's hope the Globe keeps providing that, too.

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