I haven't taken a deep dive into the state of the local television news since this cover story in 2009, when the recession was wreaking havoc on newsroom.
I'll return to the subject in this week's Phoenix, which is on the street Thursday. But in the meantime, I wanted to offer up the latest ratings. There's a lot to pore through - faced with diminishing audiences, local television stations in Providence and across the country have multiplied their newscasts in a bid to reach viewers when it is most convenient for them.
Some interesting on-air news.
Word this morning that long-time Channel 10 news anchor Gene Valicenti is set to take over talk radio station WPRO's morning news program - to be called the "WPRO Morning News with Gene Valicenti" - on Monday.
Valicenti will remain on air at Channel 10.
WPRO says Tara Granahan, who has co-hosted the radio station's morning news show until now, will become assistant program director.
Driving to work today, I was listening to a bit of the Dennis & Callahan Show on sports talk station WEEI. The hosts were talking quite a bit about the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And I wasn't surprised. They often sprinkle their sports talk with right-leaning chatter about news and politics. A big event, like this one, can mean a wholesale shift away from sports for 10 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour.
The discussion in the comments section under providencejournal.com stories is often filled with invective - directed at the politicians and accused criminals featured in the stories (sometimes one-in-the-same) and, often, at the Providence Journal itself.
Well, starting today, the newspaper is launching a new bid to clean up the conversation - and push it out into the social web.
If you want to get a sense for what the Providence Journal too often is - and what it could be - look no further than today's front page.
First, the good. Below the fold is a great little piece by Mike Stanton: a fun, colorful portrait of David Boies, the super lawyer brought in by Treasurer Gina Raimondo to defend the state's landmark pension reform bill.
John Mulligan, the Providence Journal's Washington reporter, bids adieu with a lovely column in today's paper. And his departure raises an important question: will the paper replace him?
Management at the paper is always tight-lipped, so it's hard to know. But newsroom sources say they'd be surprised if the broadsheet, struggling financially, kept the Washington bureau going.
The Museum of Modern Art has taken some lumps for acquiring video games Pac-Man, Tetris, SimCity, and Myst (Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers, among others, are up next). But RISD President John Maeda, a pioneering digital artist in his own right, defends the move in a new column in Wired magazine. From the piece:
Talk radio station WPRO's new web site gets points for its clean, navigable feel. But for this critic, its focus seems misplaced.
The homepage presents as a well-ordered rundown of the state's news. But with its small staff, the Cumulus-owned station can't hope to present anything like a comprehensive report. As I write, featured stories include a short piece on singer-songwriter Jeffrey Osborne's appearance at a homeless shelter and an effort, in Coventry, to save a tradition that has Santa riding around town on a fire truck every holiday season.
I've got a wide-ranging cover story in the current issue of the Phoenix on the Providence Journal's failing business model and lackluster journalism. I've received more email on this piece than any in memory - a sign, I think, of both the widespread dissatisfaction with the paper and the broad hope that it will do better.
Lincoln Chafee's appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor" to discuss the "holiday tree" controversy was, as predicted, a mistake. O'Reilly's shtick is better suited to the Foxitude, of course. And Chafee's chief argument - equating the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in public school to the installation of a Christmas Tree at the State House - fell flat.
The recent wave of buyouts and layoffs at the Providence Journal makes it clear that the paper is in something like a crisis: its advertising revenue and circulation plummeting at alarming rates, and no evidence of a significant shake-up in the offing on Fountain Street.
I take on that crisis in a cover story in this week's Phoenix
The Providence Journal's latest round of buyouts and layoffs has prompted some soul searching among the paper's rank-and-file - and a push to reform one of Rhode Island's most important institutions.
A couple of months ago, when word of the impending job cuts first surfaced, a group of employees sent a letter to publisher Howard Sutton and acting executive editor Karen Bordeleau offering to help the paper find a way forward.
If you made it to the "D" section in Tuesday's Providence Journal, you saw a big, yellow-tinged photo of singer Sarah Lupo beneath the headline "Sassy, Bluesy Sarah." Inside, a piece that beautifully captured the mood of her recent show at The Met - a sort of reunion of Rhode Island's aging rockers.
[I]t was a good night.
Not for Nothing was on an airplane today. And the big news, while I was unplugged, was the Providence Journal laying off 23 workers, or about 5 percent of its workforce. This comes on top of the 11 employees who took buyouts in September. The good news for readers: no reporters or editors are losing their jobs in this latest round of cuts.
A new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows the Providence Journal's advertising revenue dropped nearly 13 percent between the third quarter of 2011 and the third quarter of 2012.
The decline, from just over $12 million to almost $10.5 million, was substantially steeper than that faced by parent company A.