Major news broke in the local media world late Tuesday afternoon, when WPRI Channel 12 reported that The Providence Journal has been sold to the New Media Investment Group Inc., a parent company of the newspaper conglomerate, GateHouse Media.
The Other Paper had been up for sale since December by its owners since 1997, the A.H. Belo Corporation of Texas, but the deal has now apparently been finalized, with the new owners paying around $46 million for the BeloJo and its assets, but not the headquarters at 75 Fountain Street or the adjacent parking lots owned by the paper. Belo will continue to own and try to sell those properties, with New Media leasing them for the upcoming months.
So, what does it all mean? Damned if P&J know but, sadly, we suspect the worst. Other newspaper purchases by New Media have meant cutbacks at the new acquisitions and the Urinal has seen more than enough of those in recent years. Our last great hope for the Other Paper was that perhaps a local group would be able to purchase it. (A group that included Buff Chace, John Howell, and Barry Fain made an unsuccessful bid for the paper.)
We’ll be watching closely what happens now. But, believe us when we tell you that there is no joy in Mudville.
The recently launched reconstruction of Kennedy Plaza has meant that all buses that normally use the plaza as the hub have been rerouted to different stops. Despite advance notice of these changes, a lot of chaos ensued and, as a regular RIPTA rider, Jorge had a front row seat.
The changes were especially difficult for pregnant women and folks with disabilities who found that, instead of the convenience of getting on and off the buses in Kennedy Plaza, they had to trudge to temporary bus stops all over downtown, extending to the Convention Center, Exchange Terrace, and Steeple Street. People were constantly buttonholing uniformed RIPTA employees on hand to ask questions like, “Where does the Pawtucket bus leave from?” and “Where can you get the Providence/Newport bus?” Cards were printed and distributed that displayed a map of the temporary stops, but even those were a bit confusing. For instance, they indicated that the #60 Providence/Newport bus was still leaving from across the street from the post office, when it turned out it was actually leaving from Steeple Street.
Another “innovation” for bus riders has been the recent removal of nearly half the bus stops on many routes, although many bus stop signs are still up. P&J are sure that a number of people waiting at these stops were astonished when the buses passed by without stopping (though, thankfully, many of the drivers would pick people up and then inform them that this was no longer a bus stop).
Your superior correspondents are unsure if the administrators at RIPTA who devised these new plans are aware of the chaos that has been unleashed over the past few weeks, but there is one thing of which we are quite certain: nobody in RIPTA’s top brass rides the bus regularly. This is surely one of the reasons why the service is such a mess. (We believe the other major reason is the idiotic funding formula tied to gasoline tax money, but that’s the fault of the General Assembly.)