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Globe lobs salvo at GateHouse with beefed up Newton news written by BU journalism students

The Globe announced today it's expanding Newton coverage with the help of a class of Boston University journalism students, who will give the Garden City the kind of coverage it may no longer get from its longtime GateHouse-owned newspaper.

The students are in a "reporting in depth" class taught by Gail Spector, a former editor of the Newton Tab, in which students are assigned a specific community to cover for the semester. From the BU course catalog:

You will develop sources, walk the streets, cover a beat, attend meetings, shoot photos and provide readers with public interest journalism.

In Newton, the students will help the Globe turn out a weekly Newton newsletter and write articles for both the print Globe and its Web site, the Globe says.

In a statement, the Globe says:

While many regional news organizations continue to cut local coverage, this partnership with Boston University will allow the Globe to deepen its coverage of Newton and test whether this attracts and retains subscribers, which are business imperatives for long-term sustainability.

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Comments

Seeing as "Boston" College is actually a Newton institution.

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The Globe has a longstanding affiliation with the BU journalism department - it gets a lot of its interns from there (and from Northeastern); BC may be prominent for many things, but its journalism program is not one of them.

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Adam, you may have interpreted the BC comment as a serious question. But to me it was clearly a bit of BU trolling. Those of us associated with BU often refer to BC as Newton College. When I read this article, I was about to write the same trolling comment as "Local guy" but he beat me to it.

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Chestnut Hill Community College

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BC doesn't have a Journalism major. If a BC student wanted to write for GateHouse for free they'd be happy for the copy.

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BC does have a journalism minor, so some students would likely be interested in such opportunities.

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The Boston city limit actually goes right through the hockey rink at Conte Forum. The west goal is in Newton. Mayor Walsh had his first inauguration on the Boston end.

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3334766,-71.1674999,3a,60y,315.97h,83.46t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sK5mwgf1Wvnxja_V_s8VkFA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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This is a great opportunity for the students. They really should be paid for their efforts (instead of paying tuition to write for a for-profit company) but it's good they still are going to get their work in print and they'll learn a lot.

But it's bittersweet for Newton. These are Sophomores and Juniors in College. Most are from other parts of the country if not the globe. Few will understand the intricacies of how a city like Newton runs. Probably none of them will know the names of even a single Newton village before starting. Probably most have no idea where Newton is located geographically. They probably think "Newton Centre" is an obvious typo.

So the quality of the coverage will be limited. It's going to be meat and potatoes stories that recap meetings and town announcements. Very little in the way of investigations of follow-up stories on complex topics. Even with a great teacher/editor, you can't expect a student from California to be deep-diving into town records and hounding town employees and key residents.

Of course, that's about all the GateHouse is doing today but it's still sad from an informed citizen point of view. It's hard enough to get news in Boston. The suburbs have nothing at this point. Really hard for citizens to vote when you have no idea what elected officials are actually doing.

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No one is recapping meetings - not GateHouse local papers and not the Patch. Getting recaps of gov't meetings is very important for staying informed. Currently, if we're lucky, the local public access cable station will broadcast tapes of the meetings but most people don't have time to listen to them all. The local papers used to provide coverage of school committees, city councils/aldermen/selectmen, important committees, etc.

Investigative reporting is great to have, but first we need the basics - and we're no longer getting them.

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But it's bittersweet for Newton. These are Sophomores and Juniors in College. Most are from other parts of the country if not the globe. Few will understand the intricacies of how a city like Newton runs. Probably none of them will know the names of even a single Newton village before starting. Probably most have no idea where Newton is located geographically. They probably think "Newton Centre" is an obvious typo.

They will learn all you mention - quickly. Reporters often take jobs in new locales. They dive right in, go to meetings, learn who does what, and learn what they need to know to do their job.

I can't think of a better learning opportunity.

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Instead of hiring professionals to be reporters the Globe instead is using unpaid interns who get "course credit".

The globe can play it off as "preparing future journalists for a career" while saving $$$, smothering competition, and never having to worry about any of that pesky Union talk ever again.

How...shrewdly "benevolent" of Lord Henry.

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I don't know about this class specifically, but the Globe actually pays its interns these days, at least the ones who work over the summer for them.

If you told me the students in this class were not getting paid, I'd believe you, but then, the very nature of the class is that the students are assigned a community and then go out and cover it. It's not a new idea, they've been doing it for years, and they'd do it even if they didn't have this Globe connection (just perhaps not for Newton). The difference is that now they get to work with actual journalists and see their work published by an actual news organization, rather than just on the professor's WordPress page or whatever (and as somebody who has worked with interns and new reporters, this is not just free content for the Globe - a fair amount of that content is going to require a fair amount of work to get into good enough shape to be published).

Yes, the Globe obviously gets something out of it, but the question you might want to ask is: Why Newton? Why not some other underserved neighborhood, such as, oh, I don't know, Roxbury? That's where the money question for the Globe comes in.

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Because the professor teaching the course is from Newton and used to be editor of the Newton Tab.

The article did say that students were assigned to a variety of cities/towns, not just Newton.

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1.) The professor lives there.

2.) BU doesn't want the liability of sending Billy or Sally from Indiana to Roxbury to cover a murder and would rather have them cover birth announcements and ice cream socials from the safety of Newton.

3.) As opposed to having actual employees, the Globe paying $12-$19 an hour for summer interns saves them a TON of money versus having actual journalists.

There isn't much to crow about here.

A well to do professor doesnt have to get their hands dirty or have tough conversations with students about race, police, politics, and REAL city life while the Globe acts like they did something gracious but really they're just saving money and eliminating competition.

It IS smart, crappy but smart.

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BU has six sections of the class to choose from this fall, so I'm not sure Spector being from Newton was the sole determinant.

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The Globe choosing to focus on Newton has it's own motives, I'm sure. But Spector including Newton is likely because of her and others' concerns about the Newton news desert, especially with several hot issues in town (not related to tea socials - that would be Wellesley) and elections for municipal offices in November.

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re: several towns/cities being part of this, i glossed over that in my knee-jerk rant

I do however still plan on dying on this "The Globe isn't doing this outta kindness" hill

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Union contracts usually bar interns from doing staffers work. I work at a major news outlet. Our contract does not allow interns to do my work. I trained for my job for decades; I pay union dues, and that clause exists so that my job cannot be farmed out to intern making much less.

This is shady. You want to expand your coverage, expand it. But pay your reporters.

The Globe has cut staff over the last several years. It is not ok to replace them with cheap labor.

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I'll save them time. Here's your headline, fill in the blank with "housing; development; residents" et al as applicable:

"Newton Residents Say No to New ________________"

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Sarcasm off.

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As of 2 p.m., the first item under "More Newton Headlines" is:

"Wayne Newton sued over monkey biting girl visiting his home" (with photo)

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When Newton had two weekly newspapers, the Tab and the Graphic.

The Graphic was better. It ran for 115 years from 1882 to 1997.

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