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  • March 15, 2012
    By David Scharfenberg

    In this week's Phoenix, on the newsstands today, I've got a piece on the Providence Journal's decision to spike a controversial "Doonesbury" series on a Texas abortion law and use an alternate Doonesbury series on our anti-social tendencies in the Digital Age.

    Well, today, a wrinkle: the paper ran the fourth strip in the abortion series - by accident.

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  • March 12, 2012
    By David Scharfenberg

    The Providence Journal, it appears, is among the newspapers that are declining to run a controversial Doonesbury comic strip this week lampooning a Texas abortion law.

    Turn to page D10 today, and you'll find what appears to be a substitute Doonesbury - an inoffensive confection about life in the digital age. I've put in a call to executive editor Tom Heslin, but Journal management never comments on the paper's operations.

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  • February 27, 2012
    By David Scharfenberg

    The Providence Journal's long-anticipated paywall finally arrives tomorrow.

    The news has brought plenty of carping about the digital product it will front: an interactive pdf of the print newspaper, available in a free trial for the past few months, that seems out of step with the iPad age. But that critique, if valid, largely misses the point.

    Read More

  • January 31, 2012
    By David Scharfenberg

    The Providence Journal had a front page story today on the budget proposal Governor Chafee will unveil, tonight, in his "State of the State" address.

    A leaked budget proposal is not unprecedented. But the story has angered some in the State House press corps, who accuse the Journal of breaking what is known, in the biz, as an "embargo" and unfairly beating them to the punch on the story.

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  • January 23, 2012
    By David Scharfenberg

    Providence Journal education reporter Jennifer Jordan had a fine cover story in Sunday's paper about the controversy over the prayer banner, recently deemed unconstitutional, at Cranston High School West.

    She also had a smaller piece that was, in essence, an interview with Charles C. Haynes, a scholar at the First Amendment Center in Washington who, as the article puts it, "specializes in the intersection of public schools and religion."

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  • December 19, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    There are no reporters or columnists among the nine Providence Journal staffers who took buyouts on Friday, according to John Hill, a reporter and president of the Providence Newspaper Guild.

    Hill did not have a complete list in front of him when we spoke this afternoon and declined to release any names because the employees had not yet given him permission to do so.

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  • December 16, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    Nine Providence Journal employees have taken buyouts offered by the newspaper. The official announcement is to come Monday.

    The paper was looking to shed eight employees - one reporter, one copy editor, one photographer, one editorial assistant, and four advertising representatives. If fewer than eight had taken the buyouts, the Journal was prepared to lay off staffers.

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  • November 10, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    We've got a pretty good sense, now, for what the pension bill will look like when it comes up for a vote. And most observers expect it to pass. So how did the key players fare in Smith Hill's battle royale? An initial look:

    • Gina Raimondo seems a clear winner, here. This bill was her baby. She got loads of local and national press for it.

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  • November 07, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    I've been critical of the Providence Journal's new web site, providencejournal.com - in particular, it's failure to do much in the way of adventurous visual storytelling. Creative use of photography and video is, in many ways, the hallmark of a strong web site. And too many media companies, the Phoenix included, have moved too slowly on this front.

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  • October 24, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    Well, it ain't "60 Minutes." But news site GoLocalProv gets some points for ambition, if nothing else, with the launch of GoLocalProv TV, a four-week-old television-over-the-Internet newscast.

    The production, starring youthful anchors Greg Berman and Laura Marchetti, has a lo-fi feel to it. A brick backdrop - no studio set, here.

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  • October 17, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    The Providence Journal's new website, providencejournal.com, is up and running. And if the aim is to drive people back to the more profitable print product, well, it just might succeed.

    As expected, the site offers brief versions of basic news events, some video, reader polls, and other do-dads for free. Full versions of the paper's stories will be available via an e-edition of the Journal, which is free for the moment but will soon reside behind a paywall, available only to those who subscribe to the print product or pay a separate fee for the e-edition.

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  • October 04, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    The Providence Journal's Groupon-style daily deals service, announced a few weeks back, is now operational. The paper is promoting it heavily on its web site, projo.com.

    As I've written in this space before, there are some analysts who contend the market for daily deals sites is saturated. But that's not the opnly concern.

    Read More

  • September 21, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    ProJo columnist Bob Kerr writes in his column today on the Daniel Gordon drama:

    ...we really do have to ask ourselves how a guy who did really bad stuff and spent time in jail managed to get elected without anyone taking a hard look at a very ugly history.

    It is a good question. But I'd ask another. Two actually: who, exactly, should have unearthed Gordon's history? And who should be tasked with the responsibility of vetting candidates going forward?

    Read More

  • September 15, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    In this week's Phoenix, I've got a piece suggesting that the looming fight over pension reform will provide a window on one of the most pressing questions in Rhode Island politics: just how much clout does organized labor have, circa 2011?

    When I began reporting the piece last week, the union campaign to blunt the impacts of the reform wasn't a high-profile affair.

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  • September 13, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    Last week, I wrote in this space about the Providence Journal making its move: a new web site soon to be unveiled, the long-discussed pay wall soon to be erected, a Groupon-style deals service launching.

    Today, with a wraparound on the front section of the paper-and-ink version, the ProJo announces some of the changes and adds this tagline: "We Work for the Truth."

    Read More

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