When the East Providence Town Council this week unanimously approved a resolution in support of state legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage, it got the play of a minor story. And it was, no doubt, just a small part of a broader push to pass a gay nuptials law in Rhode Island.
But the vote, viewed another way, was of significance.
The Providence Journal posted news on its web site yesterday afternoon that executive editor Tom Heslin will retire April 25 after 41 years in journalism.
The paper noted all the essential elements of his impressive CV: he oversaw the investigative team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for its work on corruption in the state's judiciary; he guided the paper's remarkable coverage of the Station night club fire; he helped found the New England First Amendment Coalition and ACCESS/RI, which have pushed for greater transparency in government.
Last week, online news and commentary web site The Ocean State Current - a project of the conservative Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity - ran a series of posts detailing the overtime pay doled out to state-employed psychiatrists, nurses, and laundry workers.
The pieces included some eye-popping numbers.
As you may have heard, I'm leaving my post as news editor of the Providence Phoenix in a couple of weeks to take a job as an online reporter at WBUR, a National Public Radio affiliate in my native Boston.
It's tough leaving a job I truly love. But I feel much better knowing the place will be in good hands: Phil Eil, a regular freelancer for the paper these past few years, will be taking my place.
Governor Chafee has taken a lot of flack today for comments he made in an interview with Buddy Cianci blaming the media for his poor approval ratings.
"We don't have a Walter Cronkite out there," he said, "somebody that just calms everybody down and says, 'Look.'"
"Instead, for some reason, the media just gets themselves whipped up," he continued, "who's the piñata of the day, who's the punching bag of the day.
The recent kerfuffle over the release of Ken Block's Medicaid fraud report is just the latest reminder of Rhode Island's long struggle with government transparency.
Independent, non-profit, television-on-the-Internet journalist Jim Hummel is pitching a new idea to the Knight Foundation, which is offering up $5 million through its Knight News Challenge for breakthrough open government initiatives.
Our sister paper, The Phoenix in Boston, is closing. But the Providence Phoenix and the company's other paper, the Portland Phoenix, will remain open.
Stephen Mindich, who owns the company, just announced the heartbreaking news about the Boston paper - for decades, one of the nation's most prominent alternative weeklies - in a companywide meeting.
This is "Sunshine Week," an annual event meant to focus attention on the importance of transparency in government. In Rhode Island, the sun has not yet peeked out from behind the clouds.
The week's biggest story, to date, is Governor Chafee's refusal to make public a report on Medicaid waste and fraud. Chafee, who promised transparency during the gubernatorial campaign, argues that going public would jeopardize a state investigation born of the report.
We'll be hearing more about "Story in the Public Square," a partnership between Salve Regina University's Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy and the Providence Journal, in the run-up to the initiative's April 12 conference.
But just a word about it here. The effort, spearheaded by the ProJo's G.
Talk radio host Buddy Cianci, on the air for the first time since WPRO cut loose his long-time sidekick Ron St. Pierre, thanked St. Pierre, said he did not know his friend would be sacked, and attributed the move to budget trimming.
Cianci, who took off Thursday and Friday as part of an extended President's Day weekend trip to Florida, says he picked up a voicemail after landing in Florida at about 7 pm Thursday, telling him to call the station.
Advertising and circulation revenue continues to decline for the Providence Journal's Dallas-based parent company, A.H. Belo, according to a fourth-quarter earnings report released this week.
Advertising revenue was down nearly 10 percent from a year ago. Of the company's three major papers - the Providence Journal, the Dallas Morning News and the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California - the ProJo had the steepest decline, according to the regulatory filing.
The Providence Journal's 10-day series on The Station nightclub fire - in the run-up to the 10th anniversary - continues today with a fine piece by Tracy Breton on the Derderian brothers, who owned the club.
The story follows a strong and beautifully written overview of the fire by G. Wayne Miller, Tom Mooney, and Karen Lee Ziner that appeared on Sunday.
Here's the trailer for a forthcoming Station nightclub fire web series, "The Station," from local filmmaker David Bettencourt. The 10th anniversary of the fire is just weeks away.
The Providence Journal has wrapped up its "Reinvent Rhode Island" series - tackling Rhode Island's confoundingly poor economy - and put it all in one spot on its web site.
So, what to make of the paper's big, one-year project?
In a time of diminished resources and, too often, limited vision, at the state's paper of record, the ProJo deserves credit for the ambitious effort.
I've got a new cover story, on the web now and in print tomorrow, on WPRI-TV's ambitious play for Rhode Island's screens: television, the web, and mobile.
In the course of reporting the piece, I spoke with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute. He had a lot of interesting things to say about the evolution of local television news - many of which didn't make it into my story.