At Casa Diablo we believe all the changes at the Other Paper — layoffs, cutbacks, newsstand and subscription price hikes, earlier deadlines, streamlined sections (business news is no longer a stand-alone section) — not only doom Our Little Towne's daily but are meant to do so. These are moves designed (yes, designed) to accelerate and exacerbate the drop in readership. The paper is committing suicide in front of our eyes.
So we say, before the end of 2009, the Providence Journal will cease to publish a daily newspaper. We don't expect the Belo Corporation of Dallas, Texas, to acknowledge this, but it is the only conclusion that makes sense. The big question is, will the new model for reporting and writing the news — whatever it is — provide wide-ranging and more comprehensive coverage?
In order for our democratic republic to work properly, we need aware, knowledgeable and actively engaged citizens. As we wait for a new news format to appear, we are in a very dangerous situation. We know too little as it is
P+J have noted that other media outlets are picking up on the story we broke about the Urinal upping its deadlines to avoid a second press run. The result: some late-breaking stories will not be covered in print the next day, merely online. Another wrinkle is that staff of the "Lifebeat" section now has two days lead time between filing copy and it seeing print. This may actually be a break for "Deadbeat"; in two days, readers may forget they've already read the same features in the New York Times or Boston Globe. Heck, P&J's deadline is only 36 hours from the Phoenix hitting the street, so now we're competitive. They're aiming high on Fountain Street.
Flags are at half staff over Casa Diablo marking the passing of Lee Dykas, a good guy and a first-rate reporter. Lee covered the police beat at the Other Paper for many years. He was also head ramrod for the Providence Newspaper Guild during some very difficult years.
A great storyteller, Lee was also a tough former Marine. For P&J, hanging out with Lee was like hanging out with Robert Mitchum or Richard Widmark in some '40s film noir. He was also a partner (with Tony Lioce) in what was probably the greatest reporter's hangouts in Providence history, Hope's on Washington Street. At Hope's, where legal closing time was only a suggestion, the reporters, cops and a collection of some of downtown's most colorful figures communed over mugs of nut-brown ale . . . a virtual "Leo's north" (with pickled eggs instead of a regular menu) in the Providence of the '70s and '80s with Lee frequently holding court.
Lee Dykas was a real deal, old-school reporter. P&J were honored to have known this man.
THE RACE IS ON
Every time your superior correspondents start to write about the free-for-all that appears to be gubernatorial race 2010, something new pops up to change the formula and we have to regroup. Last week, for instance, we were about to predict that Mayor David "Little Chi Chi" Cicilline would take a pass, but didn't get it together in time for our Tuesday afternoon deadline. Good thing, too. Chi Chi pulled the plug a day before the Phoenix hit the streets. We would have looked pretty stupid predicting yesterday's news.