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My last post (as Not for Nothing)


[Spring training, 2005]


My lucky yet-to-be determined successor will resume this blog in the near future (and Scott MacKay and myself will soon be blogging over at 'RNI). 


Thanks for checking in, everyone. It has been fun, and it's nice to know that this blog is the first thing that pops up if you Google "Not for Nothing."

I penned a farewell piece for this week's Phoenix:

During my long-ago introduction to Rhode Island in the late '80s, I regularly stepped into the ProJo's fortress-like Fountain Street news bunker as sunlight was dawning, picking up stacks of the editions stocked with local news from throughout the state, rewriting some of it for the Associated Press. A commuter from Massachusetts at the time, my acquaintance with the state was fleeting. If you'd told me I'd return years later, trying to emulate a bit of what the late Dave O'Brien did while creating the "Don't Quote Me" media column for the Boston Phoenix, I would have scarcely believed it.

Yet life takes unpredictable turns. The same is true of the Ocean State's perpetually fertile vein of news, and I've been privileged to enjoy the alt-weekly journalist's brief of reporting and writing lengthy articles on the various topics, from the serious to the fanciful, appealing to the wide-ranging interests of Rhode Islanders.

I mean, to name just a few examples, where else can you examine self-censorship in the local media (see "Feeling inhibited," October 18, 2002); the connection between television, money, and politics (see "In whose interest," February 13, 2002); and links between big media and the Red Sox ("Inside baseball," July 29, 2005), while also penning a satiric piece about privatization (see "Struever Brothers to redevelop City Hall," August 2, 2006), a tongue-in-cheek comparison of two very different guys ("Revealed at last: the curious similarities of Steve Laffey and Greg Palast," February 14, 2008), and visiting bars and liquor stores in the name of earning a paycheck ("Beer: the next generation," News, February 6, 2008)?

Once, while working for a largish daily in Massachusetts, an editor grossly simplified the lead in my story about a local woman who had worked as a nurse in Pakistan, training members of the Afghan resistance in medical skills. His objection? The first paragraph was nearly 30 words — a challenge, the editor thought, to the education level of the average reader.

By contrast, I've always felt the Phoenix takes for granted that its readers are highly literate, voraciously interested in an array of subjects, and capable of appreciating sharp political analysis and arts and entertainment coverage dished out with a bit of attitude.

If I used the word "interregnum" in a piece ("Countdown," July 13, 2001) on Buddy Cianci, or "shaudenfraude" in a story about the fallout of a vice bust at an adult entertainment store in Johnston ("It's a scandal," February 1, 2002), there was no anxiety that they would be excised.

And while comment from the ProJo hierarchy was practically non-existent after I happened upon my niche in writing about local media, there was real news value in examining the state's most important news organization, particularly when it barely covered a labor stalemate that persisted there from 2000 to 2003.

As demonstrated by Steven Stycos's excellent story this week, examining salaries in the local health-care sector, the Phoenix continues to report stories that might otherwise go unreported, in a way that's different from other media organizations.

The media future remains uncertain. While blogs and other forms can take up some of the slack, meaningful journalism tends to be costly and time-consuming. Rhode Island demands serious scrutiny, so one can only hope that it continues to receive it, from a variety of sources.

As I leave for a political reporting gig at WRNI (1290 AM), Rhode Island's public radio station, I'd like to thank all of you who have read and continue to read the Phoenix.

It takes a lot of people to make it all happen, so thank you, Peter Kadzis; Stephen Mindich; Steve Brown; Lou Papineau; Phillipe + Jorge; Phoenix contributors past and present (particularly Stycos and Brian C. Jones); the crack sales and graphic team on Chestnut Street; and my friend Matt Jerzyk, for helping to push me into the blogosphere.

As we say in Providence, see you around the campus.

  • Bob said:

    You will be missed, Ian.

    February 12, 2009 2:08 PM
  • joe bernstein said:

    Good luck.At least Jerzyk is staying in the blogosphere so I can try to stay sharp by debating with him.

    February 12, 2009 6:11 PM
  • Jon Scott said:

    Thanks for your hard work and for your perspective over the years Ian. As I have said before: Although I do not always agree with you, you have my respect as a guy who wears his progressive politics on his sleeve yet who always manages to bring neutrality and intelligence to your stories.

    You have taken the Pheonix from its historical focus on... err... "personal ads"... and turned it into a serious voice. Credit must be given where credit is due. Good luck at WNRI. We'll talk soon.


    February 12, 2009 9:20 PM
  • Chris said:

    Ian, thank you for ten years of top-notch reporting and stirring prose.  You'll be missed.

    February 13, 2009 11:45 AM
  • Stephen said:

    As a RI'er living out of state, I will miss you and this blog! I love WRNI and wish you the best there, but it's not so easy to keep up with the radio news over the Internets. Ian, you were able to give me a quick (Daily?) Dose of oddities and big news from back home. Best of luck at WRNI - perhaps a podcast is in order?

    February 13, 2009 3:14 PM
  • Will said:

    N4N has been one of the few blogs that I routinely check out -- and which has been worth the time and effort, too.

    Echoing the comments of the others, I will miss what you've been able to contribute here. Although you usually approach things from a left of center POV, you have always managed to do it well, not be tied down to talking points, and to be both thought-provoking and insightful.

    You've definitely managed to take the Phoenix to a point where it can be taken seriously in a journalistic sense (except for all that other "stuff" which finances it, but hey), which the Projo probably wishes it could attain nowadays.

    Best wishes in the new job.

    February 14, 2009 1:35 AM

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