Friday, December 21, 2007
Reap what you sow
So it’s gotten to the point where the Town Manager must hate to pick up a newspaper. Take today’s Amherst Bulletin, for instance. The Gazette’s Thursday article “No cash windfall for Boy Scouts” appears on the Bulletin's Front Page, above the fold. Usually Wednesday is the cut off for stories from the Gazette to make this week’s Bulletin.
Now for those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of journalism in the Happy Valley the fold is the dividing line between A-rated stories and B-rated stories. Note for instance the article on Rob Kusner not running for a second Select board term is, appropriately, at the very bottom of the page.
And of course the banner headline number one story concerns our failing schools (or at least gives that impression). Although in Amherst nothing is more important than education I would still have switched the placement of those two lead articles.
Because parents packing a School Committee meeting to demand better quality education is kind of the journalistic equivalent of dog bites man story; stealing candy from a baby or initiating a tax on Christmas trees sold by Boy Scouts is a man bites dog story.
The Gazette only has a few thousand subscribers in Amherst as opposed to the Bulletin that is mailed free to every household (about 8,000). And while I subscribe to the theory “you get what you pay for” it is still incontrovertible that the Bulletin, in Amherst, is more widely read than the Gazette.
The article about the Town Manager forming a “blue ribbon panel” (how come nobody ever forms a “green ribbon” panel?) to peruse the budget is located below the fold.
So the Town Manager, who is praised by the Gazette for his economic initiates and heralded to the heavens by our lackluster Chamber of Commerce, finds his positive puff piece pushed down the page by this notoriously negative Christmas tree fiasco.
Today’s Gazette reveals the Town Manager has been reigned in by the Select board from charging groups for using the Town Common. We can’t charge the Pot Rally (A Umass Registered Student Organization) for purposely attracting 1,500 folks requiring over $1,000 in extra police details but we can charge the Boy Scouts $775 to use a chunk of space nobody else wants?
Only in Amherst!